Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Questions & Answers: Advance Directives and End of Life Decisions

Appointing a Healthcare Agent Who can serve as my agent?

Your agent can be almost any adult whom you trust to make healthcare decisions for you. He or she can be a close family member or a good friend who is willing to assume the responsibility to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.

The important thing when appointing an agent is to make sure he or she understands your wishes about the use of medical treatment and is willing to respect them and to be assertive if necessary. Not everyone is comfortable making these types of decisions, and your agent might have to be persistent to ensure that your wishes are honored. Therefore, it is essential that you talk with the person before making the appointment, even if you plan to name your spouse, your adult child or another family member.

Recommended Related to Healthy Seniors

Sarcopenia With Aging

From the time you are born to around the time you turn 30, your muscles grow larger and stronger. But at some point in your 30s, you begin to lose muscle mass and function, a condition known as age-related sarcopenia or sarcopenia with aging. People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you will still experience some muscle loss. Although there is no generally accepted test or specific level of muscle mass for...

Read the Sarcopenia With Aging article > >

Who cannot serve as my agent?

Under most state laws, your attending physician cannot treat you and act as your agent at the same time. In some states your agent cannot be any healthcare worker caring for you in a medical facility unless the person also is a family member.

Can I appoint more than one agent?

You should not (and in many states you may not) appoint more than one person to act as your agent at the same time, because conflicts and confusion can arise. The result could be that no decision is reached or that court intervention becomes necessary.

Parents sometimes wish to appoint all of their adult children to act together as the agent, to avoid "playing favorites." Instead, you could ask your children to decide among themselves who could be the agent.

Practical considerations such as location often make the answer obvious. Sometimes one adult child is more willing to take on the role than another.

You can appoint one or more alternate agents. If the first person you named is unwilling or unable to serve-for example, if he or she is ill then the next one is called upon to act as your alternate agent, and so on down the list of people you name as alternates.

Remember, in some states, appointing more than one person at a time can make the appointment invalid.

WebMD Medical Reference from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
Remember your finger
Are You Getting More Forgetful?
fruit drinks
Eat these to think better.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Close up of eye
12 reasons you're distracted.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.