Thinking about your last days is not a comfortable thing to do and it can be difficult to decide how you want your final days to be taken care of. A living will can specify who takes care of your healthcare decisions.
A Living Will
A living will sets forth instructions in the event that you become ill or debilitated and cannot make decisions on your own. Coma, an incapacitating accident, or a serious mental illness could be a consideration for a living will.
There are some fundamental concerns that should be covered in a living will.
Life Giving Medical Care
If you wish to receive life extending treatments at the end of your life this should be stated in your living will. These may include surgery, respirators, blood transfusions, or medicines.
Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Directives
Together with instructions, regarding life-prolonging procedures are DNR instructions, which tell paramedics and/or doctors if you wish to be resuscitated if your heart were to stop. You can choose to wear an alert necklace or bracelet with those directives engraved.
Life-Sustaining Food and Water
If you were to become comatose or gravely ill, your last wishes pertaining to life sustaining water and nourishment needs to be covered in your living will. If a person were to have external nourishment discontinued, they would die naturally of dehydration. A doctor can administer medications to make this period easy and comfortable. Your living will should be explicit about the conditions about withholding food and water.
Dying a natural death does not have to be painful. Even without intervention, medication can be administered to make your last days comfortable and let you pass with dignity. Your living will should state the pain management you want in your last days.
Power of Attorney for Healthcare Management
Giving a family member or close friend power of attorney over your healthcare decisions make the last days easy for everyone involved. This person will have as much or as little authority that you decide to give them. If you are not specific over which decisions, they have power over most states will allow them to complete power over your medical decisions. These decisions will include the following:
• The power to consent or deny medical treatment as long as it does not go against the living will directives
• Power over medical facilities you may be staying at
• Power over the choice of doctor you will see
• Power to petition the court to deny or continue medical treatment
• Power over organ donation, cremation, or burial after death
• Gain access to your medical records.
• The power of visitation rights
When writing a living will, make sure these issues are covered in the will. Your will takes precedent over the designee.