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Three Important Health-Related Documents for Aging Adults

Watching your loved ones get older means being a part of some potentially tough conversations about getting one’s affairs in order.

Although discussions like these may be difficult, it’s essential to have a plan now to prepare for the unexpected later. Making healthcare decisions for yourself or someone who can’t do so for themselves can be overwhelming. But initiating conversations about these three documents, in particular, is a great place to start:

1. Power of Attorney Form (POA)

A POA document lets you name the adult you’d want to make medical, financial, and other important decisions for yourself in the event that you couldn’t. If you are someone looking after an older adult, this is one of the most essential documents to get in order. And although the name suggests it, you don’t need an attorney to create a POA—however, seeking legal advice doesn’t hurt.

2. Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST)

Patient preferences should be honored to the very end, and MOLST forms help health care practitioners discuss and take a patient’s wishes regarding CPR or other life-sustaining treatments into account.

This form is for those with advanced severe illnesses, who may die in the next year or who wish to outline the life-sustaining treatments they want to avoid and/or receive. The creation of this plan typically starts with conversations with a medical professional to discuss care goals, treatment plans, and more.

3. Health Care Proxy (HCP)

HCPs are documents that name a trusted individual to act as a proxy or agent who can make medical decisions on someone’s behalf. HCP is also known as a durable medical power of attorney, and a health care proxy could also make a financial decision related to medical care, such as health insurance. If a loved one or patient doesn’t have a proxy, state law appoints an agent for them, so ensuring they have a say is crucial.

Which of these documents do you need to discuss with a patient or loved one? The sooner you can plan, the better.

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