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The Living Will - Making Your Healthcare Wishes Known

A living will is a document that expresses your parent’s wishes for medical treatment in specific circumstances. A living will is part of the advanced directive along with the durable power of attorney. This document will allow your parents to express whether they want to receive life-sustaining treatments in the event of a terminal illness or accident in which they are injured or otherwise become incapacitated. A living will deals only with medical matters. You parent will also need to prepare a  will to designate how his ir her assets will be distributed in the event of his or her death.

Some of the issues your parent should have considered are what treatments that they will decide to have. According to the American Bar Association, the living will lays out  "whether or not one [sic] wishes to be given life-sustaining treatments in the event one is terminally ill or injured, to decide in advance whether one wishes to be provided food and water via intravenous devices ("tube feeding"), and to give other medical directions that impact the end of life. "Life-sustaining treatment" means the use of available medical machinery and techniques, such as heart-lung machines, ventilators, and other medical equipment and techniques that will sustain and possibly extend one’s life, but which will not by themselves cure your condition" .Medicine and health care have progressed to the point where a person can be kept alive for a long period of time but may not have any quality of life. It is up to the individual to decide what quality of life means to them personally.

"It is up to the individual to decide what quality of life means to them personally."
While a living will may result is certain treatment which would prolong life, but not cure one’s condition, it would not prevent a medical professional from providing pain medications or providing other palliative treatments which would relieve pain or make one more comfortable.

For family caregivers, having your loved one expressed his or her wishes in a legal document can decrease the chance of confusion, stress and potential discord should your parent become incapacitated.  It’s best to have your parent’s wishes in writing and documented with your health care provider and the rest of your family.

Each state will have different requirements to it is crucial to find the document that your state requires and follow the instructions implicitly. 

 



     
  • A living will lays out one’s wishes regarding treatment in specific situations.
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  • A living will is one type of advance directive.
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  • Living wills vary from state to state.