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A notarized durable power of attorney helps communicate one’s wishes to attending physicians and care providers.

It’s a question everyone needs to answer and no one wants to talk about: Who speaks for you if you are unable to speak for yourself?

A notarized durable power of attorney for health care form is a legal document that expresses an individual’s health care wishes when he or she is unable to do so. An individual appoints a person to serve as his or her primary health care agent to make any necessary care or treatment decisions.

This person then is responsible for communicating those wishes to attending physicians and care providers.

In recognition of National Health Care Decisions Day April 16, here are some questions to consider:

• Who should speak for me? It should be someone you trust to know your wishes, your philosophy on life, on health and when you no longer would want treatment.

You do not have to be related to this person. It doesn’t have to be a spouse.

• I have a living will, so why do I need a durable power of attorney?

Living wills or advance directives focus on end of life decisions, such as tube feedings or resuscitation orders. A durable power of attorney can be used anytime you are incapacitated.

• Do I have to be a certain age? No. Anyone can, and should, have a durable power of attorney.

• Can I change my mind? Yes, you can change your durable power of attorney at any time by completing an updated form.

Forms are available for free at libertyhospital.org. Under “menu,” look under “patients and visitors” for advance directives.

Forms must be notarized.

~ Liberty Hospital

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