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Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

Programs that provide assistance for people who want to officially authorize another individual (and one or more alternates) to make health care decisions on their behalf in the event that they become incapacitated and are unable to make those decisions themselves. The appointed agent is authorized to review the medical records of the individual, admit and/or discharge the individual from a hospital or nursing facility, consult with his or her caregivers and sign forms that may be needed to assure that care is provided according to his or her preferences. The agent may also carry out the individual's preferences regarding organ donation.

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Living Wills

Programs that provide assistance for people who want to draft a living will, also sometimes known as a personal directive, which describes in writing the forms of treatment individuals wish to receive or avoid at the end of their lives and the circumstances under which health care professionals should withhold or remove artificial life support or refrain from using heroic measures if the person is unable to provide informed consent due to incapacitation. The conditions in a living will take effect when the individual is in an irreversible condition and is not expected to survive, e.g., if they are in the last stages of a terminal illness, a coma or persistive vegetative state. Included are programs that provide copies of the necessary form as well as those that help people complete them. Not all provinces recognize the validity of living wills, but all have some mechanism such as a durable power attorney for health care which achieves the same objective.

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The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.


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