Being named as a health care proxy for a loved one is an incredible responsibility. You will have to be an effective decision maker and potentially make some hard calls. If you find yourself in this situation and are feeling a bit overwhelmed, here are a few tips.

Know What They Value Most

It might be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but understanding what you loved one values during end of life care will help inform your decision making. Find out if they prefer to be at home or in a hospital, if they want life support, and if there’s any kind of treatment they do not want to undergo.

Plan Ahead

Trying to answer a difficult question at a moment’s notice will only add to your stress. To eliminate this stress, try to think through as many situations as you can and decide what you want to do if that happens. Obviously, you won’t be able to prepare for every situation, but the more prepared you are, the easier it will be.

Talk with Family Members

You might have to make a decision your family members don’t agree with, and you need to be ready for those conversations. Having these conversations in advance will give you time to explain your reasoning and allow family members to slowly accept your decision, should it come to that.

Being a health care proxy can feel overwhelming. That’s one of the reasons we offer bereavement counseling to patients and their family members. This counseling can help you cope with the stress and grief of making these tough decisions.