18 is far more than just a number. It is a symbol of transition. Finally, after years of waiting, you are no longer a child. Nights of rushing home to make 12 am curfew are over and freedom has never tasted so sweet. In a few months, it will be time to head off to college, allowing you to truly test out this new thing called adulthood. What you may not realize, however, is that 18 is also the year when your parents can no longer make health care decisions on your behalf.
So, what exactly does this mean? Should you be worried? Well, let’s say you and your friends have decided to spend your Spring Break in the mountains. A week of skiing, relaxing by the fire, and thinking about anything other than school—what could be better? Unfortunately, things don’t go quite as planned and you end up in the hospital after the first hour on the slopes. Your friends call your parents in a frenzy, but when your parents call the hospital they are unable to get any information. Despite the fact that they’re your parents, you’re an adult and, in effect, sharing your information would be a privacy concern. I know what you’re thinking, what’s the big deal? It’s probably just a broken leg. I’ll call my parents when I get out of the hospital. But what if it wasn’t just a broken leg? What if you were unconscious? Wouldn’t you want your parents by your side supporting you and helping to make important medical decisions?
Luckily, there is a solution: a medical power of attorney. Contrary to belief, this document is not only for aging parents, but is important for young adults too. By signing a medical power of attorney, you are giving your parents, or another adult of your choice, the ability to act in your place. Had you been unconscious after that accident, they could have told the doctors what steps to take.
Here at The Peninsula Center, we offer a College Power Pack, which includes a Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, and HIPPA form. Five years ago, when I said goodbye to my parents as they dropped me off for my freshman year, I would never have thought to sign these documents. Now, I would sign them in a heartbeat.
You may be an adult, but that doesn’t make you invincible. The world is full of unexpecteds, but you don’t have to be alone when they pop up. On your eighteenth birthday, rather than rushing out and buying a lottery ticket, call and set up an appointment to sign a medical power of attorney. Leaving for college is stressful enough; give yourself peace of mind by knowing that you are in good hands.