3. Think about naming who will decide your capacity

Before your attorney can make a decision for you, someone must decide that you’re of making the decision yourself.

Being capable to make a means:

  • you understand whether your attorney is truly concerned about how you live and are taken care of, and
  • you understand that you may need this person to make decisions for you.

A person might be mentally incapable because they’re sick or weak, and not able to think clearly. They can also be mentally incapable if they have a disease like Alzheimer’s that affects their ability to think and remember.

But many people who are sick or who have Alzheimer’s can still make some decisions for themselves. And people can become again, for example, by taking medication. 

Decisions about personal care

Your Power of Attorney for Personal Care can include a statement about who decides if you’re not capable of making personal care decisions. If you don’t say anything, your attorney decides this.

If you do name someone, your attorney usually cannot start making decisions until that person confirms that you’re not capable.

You can name a specific person to confirm that you’re incapable, such as your family doctor, another health professional, a friend, or even your attorney. Or, you can say it must be a certain type of professional, such as a doctor, social worker, psychologist, or nurse.

You can also state that you would like your mental incapacity confirmed, but not name a person or profession. This means that it will be confirmed by a .

A capacity assessor is someone who has special training and has been approved by the government to decide if people are mentally incapable. The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee has a list of capacity assessors in Ontario.

Decisions about health care

Your health-care practitioner decides if you’re capable of giving “informed consent” about medical treatment. Informed consent is agreeing to medical treatment after receiving information about the treatment.

Health-care practitioners include doctors, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists.

There are some times when your consent is not needed. For example, if you need emergency treatment and waiting to get consent could mean that you’ll suffer longer or your life will be in danger. But even in emergencies, health-care practitioners should not give you a treatment if they have a good reason to think you wouldn’t want it.

For other types of health-care decisions, your mental capacity might have to be assessed or evaluated. These situations include:

  • moving into a long-term care home, and
  • getting personal care services in a long-term care home.

This assessment must be done by a health-care practitioner who is an evaluator.

An evaluator must be a nurse, doctor, psychologist, occupational therapist, social worker, physiotherapist, speech language therapist, dietitian, or audiologist.

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