As an individual ages, he/she may choose to take certain measures to ensure that his/her wishes are upheld by medical professionals. He/she may choose to create a living will, in which he/she will have the ability to detail the types of life support that he/she approves of, and what procedures he/she does not want conducted. Likewise, an individual may choose to sign a Do Not Resuscitate order, directing doctors and paramedics not to attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the event of respiratory failure or cardiac arrest
Another precaution that an individual may choose to take is instating a durable power of attorney. When an individual assigns a durable power of attorney, he/she is giving another individual shared power over decisions regarding his/her health care, finances, and property. As long as an individual remains alert and mentally able, a durable power of attorney will be required to adhere to his/her wishes and commands.
For example, if an elderly individual needs to obtain money from a bank, a durable power of attorney can attain the funds and deliver them to him/her. However, if the ward remains healthy, the appointed individual will not be permitted to make decisions regarding his/her health care or assets without his/her consent.
Unlike a general power of attorney, a durable power of attorney has the ability to make decisions for an individual in the event that he/she enters a vegetative state, becomes unresponsive, or is incapacitated in a way that prohibits him/her from effectively making decisions. When appointing a durable power of attorney, an individual has the ability to specify what aspects of his/her life that attorney will govern.
An individual can appoint a durable power of attorney for healthcare, finances, or property. If an individual chooses to specify the responsibilities of a power of attorney in this matter, he/she may appoint one person to oversee his/her healthcare and another to assume responsibility for his/her property and financial funds.
A durable financial power of attorney may be responsible for cashing checks, withdrawing and utilizing financial funds, and selling his/her property. On the other hand, a durable power of attorney for healthcare will be obligated to ensure that an individual’s wishes are upheld by medical professionals in the event that he/she is unable to speak for himself/herself. A durable power of attorney for healthcare is often required to make difficult and upsetting decisions, such as when to discontinue life support.
If an individual has not established a living will or a DNR order, a durable power of attorney for healthcare will be required to convey the individual’s desires. If he/she does not wish to be resuscitated or be put on life support, the appointed attorney must inform the medical officials thus. Therefore, it is essential for an individual to select someone they trust when appointing a durable power of attorney for healthcare.