Living wills are descriptions of your preferences regarding end-of-life care. Unexpected situations can happen at any age, which makes a living will a necessity.
Advance directives are important written instructions that can help reduce confusion or disagreement when you are unable to give your medical preferences. Your family and doctor will consult your medical directives if the moment comes that you can no longer make your own health care decisions.
Advance directives may include:
- Living will. A legal written document that specify the medical treatments and life sustaining measure that you want or don’t want.
- Medical or health care power of attorney (POA). The medical POA is a legal document that designates an individual, to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so yourself. This is also called health care agent or proxy.
- Do not resuscitate (DNR) order. This is a request to not have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart stops or if you stop breathing. DNR can be ordered by your doctor, whether or not you have included it in your medical directive document.
Do you need a Medical POA and a living will?
Every possible situation that might happen cannot be covered by a living will. Designating a person by your medical POA to be your health care agent can help. This person will be guided by the living but has the authority to interpret your wishes that are not indicated in your living will. If your family is against your wishes or divided on these heart wrenching choices, a medical POA empowers one person to be decisive.
Choosing the right health care agent
As part of your planning, the most important thing to consider is the choosing of the person who will become your health care agent. This person should have your best interests at heart, understand your wishes, and be willing act accordingly. It does not have to be a family member, as long as you trust this person.
What end-of-life treatments would you want?
- Resuscitation. Restarts the heart when it has stopped beating or cardiac death.
- Mechanical ventilation. Takes over your breathing if you’re unable to do so.
- Nutritional and hydration assistance. Supplies the body with nutrients and fluids intravenously or via a tube in the stomach.
- Dialysis. Removes waste from your blood and manages fluid levels if your kidneys no longer function.
If you plan to donate some parts of your body for transplant or for scientific study, you can specify this in your advance directive. Share these wishes to your family and relieve them the burden of guessing what you would want. Explain how you feel and what you wish for.
Fill out forms for your state
Advance directives should be written. Each state has a law with regards to advance directives. Also, give a copy to your doctor and your chosen health care agent. Keep your copy in a safe yet accessible place.
Review your Advance Directive every now and then
Read your advance directives form time to time to check if there are revisions you want to make with regards to your plans. Revising your medical directives is easy: you just need to make another set of instructions or wishes written in a new advance directive form and distribute it to your doctor or family. Ask them to destroy the previous document.
Source: 1-2-Law: https://www.12law.com