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What To Discuss With A Healthcare Proxy

Step 5. Ask the Proxy questions about things that could happen to confirm you both have the same understanding about what you do and do not want.

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It is advisable to confirm that the person truly understands your wishes. You can do this by taking a few minutes to engage in an exercise of "what if" with your Proxy. You can pose a few examples and ask the Proxy what he or she understands you would want in each instance.

For example:

  • What if the doctors want to put you on a ventilator to make your breathing easier, and you will be on it for at least a week?
  • What if the chances that you will come off the ventilator are 80%?  50%?  20%?

An alternative is to ask the person to repeat to you his or her understanding of your wishes. Rather than focus on the words used, try to be sure that he or she understands your basic values. Using the last example, if you say that you do not want to go onto a ventilator if there is little chance you will get off of it, then reasonable people would likely think that you would only reject a ventilator if there were only a 20% chance of your coming off of it, but would agree to a ventilator if the odds were 50% or 80%.

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