A living will is a legal document that notes a person’s preferences in regard to medical treatment and life support, addressing such issues as feeding tubes, mechanical breathing, and resuscitation. If you do not have a living will, here are some answers to questions you may have:
Should You Have a Living Will?
Because injury and accidents often occur without warning, it’s advisable for an adult to be prepared with a living will. Once the document is created, you’re advised to review copies with doctors, spouses and others who are close to you, so that they known and understand your wishes.
Why It’s Important to Have a Living Will
A living will can make your medical preferences known in a life-threatening situation when you cannot communicate yourself. By creating a living will, you can prevent your loved ones from being put in the position of having to guess what you would want and make difficult decisions on your behalf.
How to Create a Living Will
Begin creating a living will by carefully considering the very personal decisions that need to be made. Determine how you feel about living with pain, being dependent on others for care, and other quality-of-life issues. After you’ve worked with a lawyer to create your living will, review it occasionally and update it if and when necessary.
What to Consider beyond a Living Will
When you’re creating a living will, it may be to your benefit to also consider other components of an advance directive:
- In a medical power of attorney, you can designate a person to make healthcare-related decisions beyond what has been addressed in your living will for you in the case that you are unable to do so yourself.
- A “do not resuscitate” order, also commonly called a DNR, documents your desire to forgo CPR if you stop breathing or your heart stops beating.
- A request that organs be donated documents your desire for your organs to be given to others for transplant or donated for the purpose of scientific research.
If you have more questions about living wills, talk to your primary care physician as well as your attorney. Discuss your concerns and decisions with your loved ones, and be sure everyone understands your wishes. Need a physician referral? Call Aventura Hospital’s Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-256-7692.