Medical Preferences and a Living Will

A living will is one of those things that we often don’t like to think about, but along with this kind of advance preparation comes peace of mind.

What Is a Living Will?
A living will is a legal document that provides evidence of your medical preferences regarding treatment and life support, including mechanical breathing, feeding tubes, and resuscitation. These are very personal decisions, often made after a person gives careful consideration to his or her feelings about living with pain, no longer being able to function independently, and other quality-of-life concerns.

By creating a living will, your wishes will be known even in a life-threatening situation where you cannot communicate. When you address these concerns in advance, your loved ones won’t be in a position to have to make difficult decisions on your behalf. Since accidents are not uncommon, it’s advised that all adults have living wills, make copies of them available to doctors and other persons of concern, review them periodically, and update them when they feel it’s necessary.

Other Components of an Advance Directive
Along with a living will, there are other things that commonly make up what’s referred to as a person’s advance directives. It is important to choose a surrogate that can make treatment decisions for you if you do not have the ability to do so yourself. An advance directive, including naming a healthcare surrogate, does not have to be notarized however; two non-relative witnesses are required on the document. A durable (medical) power of attorney does require notarization. A “do not resuscitate” order, also called a DNR, documents your choice to not have CPR if your breathing ceases or your heart stops beating and an organ donation request expresses your wishes for your organs to be made available for transplant or scientific research. It is extremely important that your surrogate, durable power of attorney, and/or close family members know what your wishes are in the event you cannot make decisions for yourself.

At Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, we understand that making these choices can be difficult. But ultimately these preparations make sense for you, your loved ones, and your family.

Sources:

Living Wills: An Overview (Legal Zoom)

Advance Directives (HospiceNet)

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