Selecting someone to be the agent named in your power of attorney for health care is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. This person could be making life or death choices for you one day. Just being your first born or your closest friend may not be enough. Your ideal agent should possess those qualities necessary to make sound medical decisions under great stress. Your agent should have ANGST
A – Availability – Choose an agent who lives near enough to you to be able to get to the hospital quickly in an emergency and to visit frequently. Observing you, talking with your doctors and nurses and reviewing your medical records will allow your agent to get the full picture of your situation and to be present to advocate for your best care.
N – Nerve – Your agent needs the emotional fortitude to handle emergency situations at a very upsetting time. Do not choose someone who faints at the sight of blood or falls to pieces in a crisis.
G – Gumption – You need a feisty agent, one who will stand up to busy medical personnel to demand information, explanations and good care for you. Your agent is your advocate and speaks for you at a time when you cannot speak for yourself. Your agent even has the power to change doctors if he believes you are not getting appropriate care.
S – Smarts – If your agent is not knowledgeable about medical terms, issues and procedures, he must be intelligent enough to ask questions and educate himself. Good decisions come from a clear understanding of the facts and the options available.
T – Thinking – Choose an agent who thinks in the same way that you do about health care. For example, you might not want your agent to choose radical surgery or radiation for you if you are a proponent of medicinal herbs and acupuncture. Having some view point is especially important regarding decisions about life support, hospice and artificially administered nutrition and hydration.
Choosing an agent with ANGST will assure that your agent will be able to make the wise and informed medical decisions that you would make for yourself if you were able.