October 2014

LIVING WILLS, Who should have one? EVERYONE!

What is a Living Will?

A Living Will is a legal document that a person uses to make their wishes known regarding medical treatments to prolong life.  Other names used for a Living Will are Advanced Directive or Healthcare Directive.  A Living Will does not have anything to do with an individual’s personal assets.

 

Why have a Living Will?

A Living Will gives you a voice at a time when you may not be able to speak.  It gives you the final say in your healthcare treatments.  It directs healthcare professional as to what therapies a patient wants and does not want.  A Living Will also makes a crisis situation much easier for your family members.  It will take the hardship of making medical decisions off family members because they will be able to follow the blueprint set forth by you the patient.  At times of crisis it is very difficult for family members to be able to recall or determine what you would have wanted.

As part of a Living Will you should also designate a Healthcare Power of Attorney.  This is the person that you would want to be making decisions for you should the need arise.  This person would be responsible only for your healthcare decisions, not your financial decisions.

 

Who needs a Living Will?

Pretty much all adults need a Living Will.  Unfortunately accidents do happen and we maybe in a situation where it is necessary.

 

What is in a Living Will?

A Living Will discusses certain life prolonging treatments such as Resuscitation, Mechanical Ventilation, Nutritional Assistance, Dialysis and Life Support.  These are a few extraordinary measures that can be performed in an emergency situation.  Living Wills discuss not only to implement these treatments but also for what length of time.  Stipulations can be made that if not improving your condition they can be stopped.  You may specify in your Living Will if you would like to be an organ donor or donate your body to scientific research.

 

Where do I keep my Living Will?

You should keep your original Living Will in a safe place with your important documents.  A copy of your Living Will should be on file at your doctor’s office and a copy should be given to your Healthcare Power of Attorney.

 

Lastly it is important to share your wishes with your doctor and your family.  At your next office visit you can discuss the specifics of your Living Will.  Discuss your wishes with your family, let them know you have a Living Will and who you designated as your Healthcare Power of Attorney. Under the Patient Forms tab on our website you can find samples of a Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney.

 

Dr. Steve