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Choosing who you would want to speak for you if you could not communicate yourself or make your own medical decisions is an essential part of advance care planning. By naming your patient advocate on your advance directive makes your decision legal.

A patient advocate is the individual you choose to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to make those decisions yourself. The person you chose to be your patient advocate should be an individual you believe will take the time to learn about your values, goals, and beliefs regarding your medical treatment, and would be prepared to advocate on your behalf. The Patient Advocate Designation is sometimes called an Advance Directive or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. When choosing your patient advocate consider:

  • Who knows me well?
  • Who will honor my wishes even if they are different than their own?
  • Who is available when I need them?
  • Who takes an active interest or concern in my wellbeing?
  • Who will be able to make informed decisions under stressful situations?