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The Power of Attorney for Personal Care – otherwise known as the “living will” – sets out in clear language your position on various healthcare related decisions.  It sets out who you would like to make these decisions in the event you are unable to make them yourself, and provides this named decision-maker with instructions.  This document only comes into effect if you are incapable of making these decisions for yourself – for example, if you are in a coma. Many people use this document to express their position on being kept alive by feeding tubes and breathing machines.  Whether you are opposed to taking extraordinary measures or would like caregivers to take every measure possible, this document should provide some peace of mind that your wishes will be followed. Recently, a dispute has arisen over the care being given to an elderly late-stage Alzheimer’s patient in British Columbia.  This patient’s power of attorney instructs doctors not to provide her with nourishment and liquids in the event there is no reasonable expectation that she will recover from extreme mental or physical disability.  Despite these instructions, she is being spoon-fed to keep her alive.  It is the governing health authority in the area’s position that health care providers are required to provide the necessities of life, and this includes the provision of food and liquids. I look forward to following this dispute which considers whether spoon-feeding should be classified as healthcare or the provision of the necessities of life.  I expect it will clarify the type of care we are able to refuse through a power of attorney for personal care.  As we anxiously await more information, more details can be found in this National Post article.

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