Living Will

A Living Will is a document that you use to indicate your medical wishes in the event you are incapacitated or cannot consent to your health care treatment.  Generally, a Living Will and a Health Care Directive both dictate your health care preferences in the event of a medical emergency or incapacitation, but a Health Care Directive may also be used to refer to a document that contains a Living Will and a Medical Power of Attorney.  The Living Will is a legal document that spells out the medical treatments you would and would not want to be used to keep you alive, as well as your preferences for other medical decisions, such as pain management or organ donation.  A Last Will and Testament is a document used to indicate how you would like to leave your property or have your assets divided, or how your children will be cared for after your death, or what will happen to your dogs.

Every state has its own limits as to what you are legally permitted to include in your Health Care Directive.  While you may specify instructions for a variety of medical situations and describe your feelings towards quality of life, keep in mind health care providers will only be allowed to carry out certain procedures according to your state laws.  This process involves selecting a Health Care Advocate, someone that will be responsible for you if you are no longer to make decisions concerning your health.  Living wills are often used with a document called a durable power of attorney (DPOA) for healthcare.  A DPOA appoints someone to carry out the wishes about end-of-life treatment that are written down in a living will or medical directive.

The medical decisions which you should consider involve things that determine your outcome, like Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to restart your heart if it has stopped beating.  Would you like mechanical ventilation to takes over your breathing if you’re unable to breathe on your own?  Would you want tube feeding to supply your body with nutrients and fluids?  Will you consider dialysis to remove the waste from your blood and manage fluid levels if your kidneys stop functioning?

Other considerations include antibiotics or antiviral medications that can be used to treat many infections, or even a bee sting.  Comfort care (palliative care) includes any number of interventions that may be used to keep you comfortable and manage pain depending on what you are accustomed to.  Organ and tissue donations and donating your body for scientific study also can be specified.  These things should be carefully considered, as you don’t want to make an error that will jeopardize your last days on Earth, in case the tide turns.  It is not a breeze making these decisions and your Living Will can be adjusted any time for any reason, like if a new medication, or procedure makes its debut.

RIP Robert Hunter Grateful Dead lyricist, as I just read that he died on Monday at his Northern California home.  On a more upbeat note, this is my first post using my new computer.

Written for Sheryl’s Daily Word Prompt – Accustomed, for Roger Shipp’s Daily Addictions prompt – Bee, for the Daily Spur prompt – Outcome, for FOWC with Fandango – Debut, for Ragtag Community – Error, for Di’s Three Things Challenge – Breeze Dogs Tide, and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Jeopardize.

21 thoughts on “Living Will

  1. That this is a legal document is good. I don’t think they have legal standing here, but they should. Awareness here is also an issue – specifically, the relatives being aware that these wishes even exist.

    I saw somewhere that a central web site was being developed specifically for living wills, but I can imagine that there would be all sorts of peripheral issues like security.

    There is a disjoint here because doctors will try and prolong life as much as possible, seemingly regardless of the quality of that life, and certainly I, and the few people I discuss this with, recognise that we *will* die one day and that dignity is the biggest factor.

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      1. Proper will, that is. My LW, my wife knows I don’t want treatment so that’ll have to do. Even my proper will, my daughter might contest it in the courts if she’s savvy. I’d be interested if you could get LW software.

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      2. A couple of years ago in the UK, one of the charities offered a free will-writing service (again, W not LW). There was, of course, an expectation that you’d bequeath something to them, but it was an expectation, not a requirement. Keep an eye out.

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