A health care directive is an excellent tool to create. Also called a health care proxy or living will, this document allows a person to authorize an agent who can act on their behalf when it comes to matters involving health care. These can include making health care decisions, talking to health care professionals, consenting to treatment, or withholding treatment. All of these are the standard powers that can be given to the agent by virtue of the health care directive.
How Does a Health Care Directive Become Effective?
The health care directive is drawn up by an individual, stating that he or she is giving a named agent the authority to make medical decisions on their behalf. Once it’s complete, the document needs to be executed, the process and requirements of which would depend on the State.
In Minnesota, the health care directive can be executed by signing it in front of a notary or in the presence of two witnesses. Doing these ensures that the health care directive is executed.
Special Requirements to Authorize Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease
In cases of Alzheimer’s disease and other mental illnesses, there are specific requirements that must be met to authorize the health care agent to make decisions about intrusive mental health care treatments like neuroleptics and shock treatment.
To make the health care directive involving these matters effective it needs to be signed in the presence of two witnesses. In these instances, it’s not enough to sign the document with only a notary.
The reason behind this is because notaries are only there to witness that the document was signed by the right person. But in extraordinary types of treatments, it’s going to require more than the verification of one’s identity.
The two witnesses can attest to the competency, willingness, and intention of the person creating the health care directive and authorizing the agent to make decisions on mental health care treatments.
So Does a Health Care Directive Cover Alzheimer’s?
Yes, a health care directive can be used by the agent to make decisions about Alzheimer’s disease treatments, as well as those for other mental illnesses like advanced dementia. But in order for the directive to be truly effective, it needs to be signed in the presence of two witnesses.