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How to protect yourself if you’re incapacitated

Updated: May 7

Ok, this isn’t the easiest or the most comfortable subject to discuss, but it’s definitely worth your attention.

Did you know that if you are incapacitated that you could be subject to medical or psychiatric treatments and drugs without your consent? Wouldn’t it be better to let people know in advance what you do or do not approve in case you don’t have a voice when it really matters? Or let’s say you never want to be on life-support, but you never document this wish. You know what can happen? You guessed it, you could be put on life-support, and in some instances for an extended period of time.

If you’re like me, you like to have control over your assets and your body. Without the proper documentation set-up for both, you are putting very important decisions in the hands of others.

I’m going to list out some of the steps you can take to ensure your healthcare wishes are adhered to should anything happen to you in the future.

First, get a durable power of attorney. This designates an individual to manage your bank accounts and other important assets and affairs. This is a very important legal document that removes a great deal of stress involved with managing your assets when you may not be able to manage them yourself.

Next is the Health Care Surrogate Form. This form appoints individuals who are permitted to make certain healthcare decisions should you not be able to make these decisions yourself.

Then there is a Living Will. A living will is a legal document that tells others what your personal choices are about end-of-life medical treatment. It lays out the procedures or medications you want—or don’t want—to prolong your life if you can’t talk with the doctors yourself. This could be because you’re under anesthesia for a scheduled surgery and had a complication, or are unconscious from an accident or other event.

Lastly, and a very key piece, is the Mental Health Advance Directive. This tell others your personal choices regarding psychiatric treatment, and may come in handy during times when you are unconscious or incapacitated.

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