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Choosing a Stand-Up Stand-In

Someone runs a red light and a paramedic is the next person you see. Or, you awaken from a nap to find that neither your body nor your mind will function. What happens next?

If you don’t choose someone to make decisions when you can’t, decisions will be made anyway. You know this. That’s why it’s so essential that you select a “stand in.”

Here are five characteristics I considered when choosing my stand in:

  1. Someone younger and healthy

If you’re over 75, you might want to choose someone other than your same-age spouse or long-time friend. Or name an adult child as a co-agent to help your spouse. Consider the likelihood that your spouse will be struggling with health issues of his or her own or emotional issues related to your condition.

  1. Someone who knows and respects your priorities

You’ll tell this person your choices, but this person should understand who you are, your spiritual beliefs, the people, and things essential to your life.

  1. Someone who is willing and able to confront authority figures

Although things are changing, most doctors and nurses are taught to cure instead of making life comfortable for the patient. Your agent must be strong enough to say “no” on your behalf. Think Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment.

  1. Someone who knows your family well enough to help in a crisis

Crises call for a good listener, a compassionate heart, and a strong shoulder. Choose someone your family can really lean on.

  1. Someone completely reliable

Not a job for the faint-hearted, a “stand in” is not a responsibility to be given or taken lightly. Choose someone who always shows up.