The end of life. We don’t want to think about it, after all, we’re too busy living life to think about the end of life. We should enjoy every minute of life, making some advanced medical decisions by filling out a living will help us have a happier end of life, knowing our wishes will be carried out in the end. A living will also makes our end of life decisions easier for loved ones we leave behind.
A living will is a document that outlines hypothetically what kind of medical care you would want if you were permanently unconscious or terminally ill and near death. A living will enables you to make advanced medical decisions with multiple choice options for certain medical treatment. You can make the advanced medical decisions regarding things like if you would want artificial feeding, hydration, or be put on a ventilator in the event that you had irreversible brain damage. Advanced medical decisions regarding your end of life care such as-would you want aggressive comfort care or life prolonging treatment?
A living will contains advanced medical decisions questions with multiple choice answers regarding your end of life care, and all living will documents contain a special section for you to write specific comments. You make and write down your own advanced medical decisions regarding specific circumstances under which you would not want CPR, a feeding tube, dialysis or treatment with a breathing machine, etc.
Once you have filled out a living will, the living will document must be signed by two witnesses and a notary public. If medical intervention is needed at the end of life for someone with a living will, health care providers will still discuss the patient’s options with the family or health care power of attorney, so even if you have a living will, it is still important to discuss your end of life wishes with your family.
A living will can be changed or nullified at anytime. Your present medical condition could change and you might want to change some of the advanced medical decisions for your end of life.
Your original living will should be kept in a safe place where family members know where it is and can access it. Copies should be given to family members, health care power of attorney, health care provider and your attorney.
You can obtain a living will document and make your own advanced medical decisions for end of life care through Five Wishes. Five Wishes offers a detailed living will document that is legal in 40 states. You can call Five Wishes at 888-594-7473 (888-5wishes) or go online to www.agingwithdignity.org.