Why Should I Have A Living Will?

A living will, sometimes known as an advanced directive, is a document which is legally binding. It comes into play if you are the victim of an accident or illness which means that you become unable to make any decisions of your own or if you develop a terminal illness.

A living will provides answers in advance to the many difficult decisions which need to be made at such a time, including the type of intervention and care you’d want to have. This alleviates the burden which would otherwise fall on family members who would already be under considerable stress at such a time.

The Benefits Of A Living Will

The benefit of a living will is that you can make your wishes quite clear at a time when you are competent to make them, and so avoid any disagreements or confusion should such an eventuality arise when you become no longer able to decide for yourself.

Family members who are called upon to take such serious decisions often feel very guilty or worried about the final choice that they make. It could even cause major disagreements between members of the family who have different beliefs about their loved one’s wishes.

How To Create Your Living Will

If you are keen to ensure that your wishes are carried out should the worst happen, it’s important to create a living will while you’re still competent and in sound mind. Here are some steps to take when it comes to drawing up your document:

  • Discuss the potential scenarios – talk to your doctor and family about the various medical scenarios which you could face and then decide on any treatments that you are sure you do or don’t want to receive. If, for example, you do not want to be resuscitated if your heart stops, it’s important to note this on your medical notes in advance of the scenario happening.
  • Choose your medical power of attorney – it’s important to choose a person who’ll have the responsibility of making your healthcare decisions should you be unable to make those decisions yourself. This person should be somebody who you are sure will adhere to your wishes, even if they contrast with their own. Put that person’s name in writing, but remember to discuss the matter with your family too so that nothing comes as an unpleasant surprise.
  • Choose how much medical intervention you want to receive – as part of your living will, you should choose what level of intervention you feel comfortable with. While some patients are happy to go with the palliative care option, others want a moderate medical involvement, for example antibiotics or hydration, and still others want all kinds of life-sustaining measures to be used like CPR.
  • Hospice care – you need to include in your document whether or not you want to receive care in a hospice. Hospice palliative care gives quality of life, dignity and comfort to people who are nearing the end of their life, and can also be very beneficial for loved ones who receive the support they need.
  • Tell your family where the documentation is – make sure you let your loved ones know where your living will is located and where they can find it should a medical emergency arise.
  • Discuss with your physician or medical provider – once you have documented your wishes in your living will, it’s important to talk to your physician about what you have decided. This is especially important if you have already been diagnosed with a serious medical condition which could result in such a scenario arising.

Drawing up a living will is just one way of making sure that your wishes will be carried out, even if you are no longer able to decide for yourself.

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