With no warning at all, unexpected illnesses or injuries may leave people incapacitated and in need of life-saving treatment or end-of-life care. Through advance care planning, however, people express their wishes, even when they cannot use their voices.
Legal documents, living wills allow people to specify their preferences on the types of treatments they would and would not want in life-threatening situations. If dying or permanently unconscious and unable to speak for themselves, people’s living wills take effect and guide their health care teams.
Considering the possible decisions
According to MayoClinic.org, in creating living wills, people should consider a number of factors and possible decisions. In these documents, people will dictate their decisions for receiving various types of treatment, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, tube feeding, mechanical ventilation, dialysis, and antibiotics or antiviral medications. They also indicate the circumstances in which they would or would not want such treatments.
To help make their choices, people ought to think about their values. They may take into account things such as their thoughts and feelings on living and dying. Would they want doctors to keep them alive at all costs? Would they prefer to not receive certain care if they have no chance of recovering? Talking to their doctors may also help people determine their preferences to include in living wills.
Notifying others of a living will
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, after establishing advance directives such as living wills, people should notify others. They should tell close family members and friends where they have a copy, as well as give copies to their health care proxies if they name representatives. Additionally, people may find it helpful to give copies of their living wills to their physicians to keep in their medical records.
No one wants to burden their families should they become unexpectedly ill or injured. However, having to make decisions for them without knowing their preferences may prove a heavy and challenging task. Through a living will, people may lift this weight from their loved ones and ensure their wishes get carried out.