Living Wills and Advance Directives

Plan ahead and get the clinical consideration you need toward the finish of life.

Living wills and advance directives for clinical choices

A living will is a written statement detailing a person’s desires regarding their medical treatment in circumstances in which they are no longer able to express informed consent. An advance directive is essentially a form of a living will used to accomplish the same or a similar objective. Advance mandates direct decisions for specialists and parental figures in case you’re in critical condition, in a state of unconsciousness, in the late phases of dementia or otherwise incapable of making informed choices regarding your health.

Picking an individual act as your medical care specialist is a significant decision. You should pick an individual who meets the following criteria:

  • Meets your state’s requirements for a health care agent
  • Is not your doctor or a part of your medical care team
  • Is willing and able to discuss medical care and end-of-life issues with you
  • Can be trusted to make decisions that adhere to your wishes and values
  • Can be trusted to be your advocate if there are disagreements about your care

The living will or advance directive should cover a variety of debilitating condictions, including the following:

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) restarts the heart when it has stopped beating. Determine if and when you would want to be resuscitated by CPR or by a device that delivers an electric shock to stimulate the heart.

Mechanical ventilation takes over your breathing if you’re unable to breathe on your own. Consider if, when and for how long you would want to be placed on a mechanical ventilator.

Tube feeding supplies the body with nutrients and fluids intravenously or via a tube in the stomach. Decide if, when and for how long you would want to be fed in this manner.

Dialysis removes waste from your blood and manages fluid levels if your kidneys no longer function. Determine if, when and for how long you would want to receive this treatment.

Antibiotics or antiviral medications can be used to treat many infections. If you were near the end of life, would you want infections to be treated aggressively or would you rather let infections run their course?

Comfort care (palliative care) includes any number of interventions that may be used to keep you comfortable and manage pain while abiding by your other treatment wishes. This may include being allowed to die at home, getting pain medications, being fed ice chips to soothe mouth dryness, and avoiding invasive tests or treatments.

Organ and tissue donations for transplantation can be specified in your living will. If your organs are removed for donation, you will be kept on life-sustaining treatment temporarily until the procedure is complete. To help your health care agent avoid any confusion, you may want to state in your living will that you understand the need for this temporary intervention.

Donating your body for scientific study also can be specified. Contact a local medical school, university or donation program for information on how to register for a planned donation for research.

The individual you name might be a spouse, partner, relative, companion or other trusted individual. You can pick at least one substitute in the event that your first choice is unwilling or unable to assume the responsibility. You can change your orders if and when the need to do so arises. Consider exploring your orders and making new ones in the accompanying circumstances:

  • New diagnosis. A diagnosis of a disease that is terminal or that significantly alters your life may lead you to make changes in your living will. Discuss with your doctor the kind of treatment and care decisions that might be made during the expected course of the disease.
  • Change of marital status. When you marry, divorce, become separated or are widowed, you may need to select a new health care agent.
  • About every 10 years. Over time your thoughts about end-of-life care may change. Review your directives from time to time to be sure they reflect your current values and wishes.

Lynx Legal Service provides legal document preparation services for those seeking to create a living will or advance directive. Ready to start?  Please call us at 888-441-2355 or email our intake and order form to us at info@lynxlegal.com.  One of our paralegals will be in touch ASAP.

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