What’s a Living Will?

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 How to Create a Living Will?

A living will is created when you are alive and informs the medical community how you want to be treated if you cannot make your own decisions regarding emergency treatment. This is considered a legal document; you can state the medical care you desire and the medical care you want to avoid. You can further specify the conditions in which these procedures would be allowed.

A living will is separate from a will. A will provides legal guidance about a person’s estate and financial assets, including care for a child or adult dependents, gifts, and end-of-life arrangements such as a funeral or memorial service and burial or cremation. The living will guide the person’s medical preferences in situations where they cannot make a sound decision themselves. For instance, if the person is terminally ill, seriously injured, in a state of coma, or near the end of life.

What Types of Decisions Are Covered in a Living Will?

Through a living will, you can state your preferences regarding emergency treatments to keep you alive. Contacting a physician or another health care provider is recommended to determine what best suits your medical care choices. Below is a brief description of the decisions that may arise when dealing with this situation.

CPR is a procedure that tries to restore your heartbeat if your heart stops or is in a life-threatening abnormal rhythm. In some cases, a rupture to the ribs can occur due to repeated pushing on the chest with force. The emergency responders can use electronic shocks and other medicines during the process. There is a higher risk for the elderly to survive this procedure.

Another common issue that may arise is the use of ventilators. If you cannot breathe properly, you may need a ventilator, a machine that utilizes a tube in the throat to push air into the lungs to help you breathe. Inserting the tube down the throat is referred to as intubation. Since a ventilator is expected to remain for a while, the doctors may insert the tube directly into your trachea (a part of the throat) through a hole in the neck. This can cause issues later for a person to speak.

Moreover, some may need to decide whether or not to have pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICD). Some people have pacemakers to assist their hearts in beating regularly. Some people have an (ICD) that will shock the heart back into regular beats if the rhythm becomes irregular. If you decline other life-sustaining measures, the ICD may be turned off.

Again, it is crucial to ask a doctor to determine the best course of action for your medical history or conditions. Dialysis removes waste from your blood and manages fluid levels when your kidneys are not functioning. You need to decide whether or not you want this and for how long.

Additionally, many educational programs and institutions require a human body for schooling. If you wish to donate your body for this, you can specify this in your living will. You can contact a local medical school, university, or donation program for more information on registering for a planned donation for research.

Also, there is comfort care, which consists of any interventions that may be used to keep you comfortable and manage pain while adhering to your other treatment wishes. Examples of this include being at home when passing, receiving pain medications, and avoiding invasive tests or treatments.

Lastly, many people must determine whether to consent to artificial nutrition and hydration. If you cannot eat or drink, fluids and nutrients may be delivered into a vein through an IV or a feeding tube. Depending on how long the feeding tube is needed, the tube may not be invasive. For instance, for a longer time, the feeding tube may be surgically inserted directly into the stomach through the skin of the abdomen. You can also include your preferences regarding any organ or tissue donation.

How Do You Prepare a Living Will?

Before you start preparing for a living will, there are some things to consider. You need to determine your stance on end-of-life procedures. You can consult a medical professional about this and determine what you want.

This decision process will most likely reflect your values. Some people prefer not to have any medical interventions performed at the end of their life. However, some people only aim to stay alive as long as possible to spend their last moments with their families.

Furthermore, others understand when they would no longer want to prolong their lives. The types of care and treatment you want to include as your final wishes can be included in the living will.

Moreover, consulting with your doctor about advance care planning is recommended, and you can check with your insurance if it is covered. Getting more than one doctor’s opinion can be useful to make an informed decision about how you want to proceed with any end-of-life care procedures.

For instance, if you became seriously injured from an accident and ended up in a coma. Some people also assign healthcare proxies for their medical decisions. You can also consult with them and have them accompany you to your doctor’s appointment.

According to the National Institute on Aging, you can complete your living will online. You can also download medical advance directive forms. Each state has an online system for people to file their living will. However, you may need to have your will witnessed and notarized. Once you have completed this process, you can store it safely and provide the necessary copies to the right parties, including the healthcare providers.

Remember you are allowed to update your form and modify it as needed. Nothing is considered a set stone; your mind can change, and your views on your end-of-life treatment or care can change.

Why Should I Write a Living Will?

Everyone should consider drafting a living will because life throws situations that may require someone else to make healthcare decisions for you. Below are some circumstances that can warrant you to start on the process of getting a living:

  • You are aging or have declining health;
  • You are planning to transfer to a care facility;
  • You will be undergoing a medical procedure that requires anesthesia and;
  • You have been given a terminal diagnosis.

The reason to start living will not need to be because you are aging. You can develop a health condition that could mean planning for a living will. Understanding the process and figuring out how to start on the health journey will be helpful. Note that this document is not valid during pregnancy in all states.

When Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer?

A living will is a legal document that allows you to plan for your end-of-life decisions if you reach a point where you cannot express your wishes. Creating a living will according to your values on health care treatment can be beneficial. You can get an opinion from a physician on how to go about determining what is best for you. Also, do not hesitate to contact a local living will lawyer to assist you.


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