Surrogate decision-making: The elderly's familial expectations

This essay explores the preferences, anticipations and expectations of the elderly regarding the role of family members in making health care decisions for them should they become decisionally incapacitated. Findings are presented from a series of in-depth interviews of men and women aged 67–91 years. Following a discussion of the uncertain legal status of familial surrogate decision-making, we argue that the family unit's autonomy is sufficient to justify the elderly's preferred reliance on their own family. Further, we suggest that social and legal policy changes should facilitate, rather than impede, familial decision-making.
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