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Why Get A Living Will

A Living Will (a.k.a., Advance Directive) is a legal document that outlines a person’s wishes regarding the type and extent of medical treatment to be implemented in the event of incapacitation.


Directions including pain relief and the degree of its use, whether or not to utilize respirators and feeding tubes, and resuscitation guidelines are the kinds of topics generally delineated in the document.  A Living Will differs from another type of Advance Directive, Health Care Proxy, in that a Health Care Proxy designates another person (e.g. husband, wife, son, daughter) to make medical decisions.


Living Wills are usually available to people 18 years of age and older.  Even so, a fair number of individuals do not begin to think about the need for this type of document until they reach middle age.


Why should someone get a Living Will?  Let’s examine a couple of reasons.

  • An individual’s health care requests will be met according to his or her dictates.  If a person encounters an unforeseen medical event and can no longer make decisions, the course of action is typically tailored to the treatment protocol outlined in the document.  Most of us want to manage our health care; a Living Will helps that happen.
  • The burden during crisis is taken off loved ones.  Oftentimes it is difficult for loved ones to make snap health care decisions.  Questions like, “Would Mom choose a feeding tube?” or “Do you think Dad would want a ventilator?” come in to play.  At the same time, there may be differing views among relatives regarding the best way to proceed.  A Living Will removes at least some of the anguish surrounding complicated medical situations.


How do you get a Living Will?


Forms may be available at certain physicians’ offices, senior centers, and hospitals: attorneys can also draw up a Living Will.


Naturally, guidelines only kick in when an individual is incapacitated.  If this happens, medical choices are based on the outlined instructions.  However, as long as a person is capable of making health care decisions, a Living Will is subject to revision.  For instance, certain people may feel at one stage in their lives they would want to be resuscitated under any circumstance.  Yet, as time goes by, they could come to view the topic differently.


Why consider a Living Will?  It puts you in control!

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