One of the hardest parts of growing older is having to cede parts of our independence. This is even more difficult if we fall ill and can no longer make decisions for ourselves. Who will you trust to make decisions about your health care if you are incapacitate and you can’t voice your wishes?
You’ve already planned for the future – your retirement, your estate. Why not plan your end-of-life health care decisions now as well?
What is a living will?
Also known as an advance directive, a living will is a legally-binding document you create to spell out your health care wishes in case you become incapacitated.
A living will only goes into effect if you can no longer communicate your wishes yourself. As long as you are coherent, the contents of your living will has no bearing on your treatment.
Many living wills have two parts. In one part you may name a health care surrogate or proxy. This is a person to whom you give decision-making power over your medical care if you cannot make decisions or communicate decisions yourself. In another part of a living will, you may specifically choose which procedure you would or would not like to have, some of which may prolong your life.
What should I address in my living will?
In your living will, you can chose whether you would or would not like to receive any number of medical procedures. These may include, but are by no means limited to the following:
- Tube feeding
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
- Organ donation
- Heart-lung resuscitation (CPR)
- Radiation therapy
- Blood transfusions
Creating a living will
If you wish to create a living will, consider seeking the assistance of an attorney. He or she can furnish all the paperwork you need to complete the document and can counsel you on aspects of a living will you are unsure about or might not have considered.