In the event that you’re unable to make decisions for yourself in a health emergency, a living will allows you to still let your wishes be known to your doctor. This is a legal document that states the kinds of medical treatments and life saving measures you want or do not want under particular circumstances. You might have also heard it called a health care declaration, health care directive or advanced directive.
The first thing you may want to do in making your living will is to consider the kinds of care you want to receive under various circumstances that may occur. For instance, if you find yourself in a situation thats life threatening, you can decline measures to prolong your life, but still ask for pain medication. On the other hand, you can request that all life saving measures be used.
Measures to save or prolong your life include such things as cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR, mechanical breathing, artificial feeding, intravenous fluids, or antibiotics. You can choose to decline any or all of these measures in the event that your life is threatened. Many people prefer not to be kept alive in a vegetative or brain dead state. These people choose the quality of life over the quantity of it. Go down your list of these measures and be very clear about which ones you want to be used on you, if needed.
Be sure to talk over your choices with your doctor so that he or she will be aware of what they’ll need to do or not do for you in the event of a medical emergency. In addition, they’ll also be able to tell you other things you may want to include in your living will. It’s best to cover all bases.
You’ll also want to sit down with your loved ones and talk over your wishes with them once youve got an idea of the treatments that you want and don’t want. Get their input and share your own thoughts. This talk should include extended family members, too. If you’re a member of a specific church, including your pastor may also be helpful.
Next, obtain a copy of the Living Will Form of your state. You need this because each state has particular requirements. This will help your living will meet all of your states legal requirements. Since there’s not a national standard, if you move to another state, you’ll need to draw up a new living will. These forms can be obtained from your local hospital, doctor, state health department or local council on aging. They can also be downloaded from the Internet or you can have a lawyer help you make one.
Once you have done all of the above, complete and then execute this form. Review it carefully so that you don’t miss anything. Put in any extra details for specific wishes that you may have that doesn’t appear on the form. Sign your living will form and have it witnessed according to the laws of your state. If your form isn’t signed or witnessed properly, it may be considered invalid.
Now it’s time to hand out copies of your living will to family members, doctor, and lawyer as well as locking up with your important personal papers.
Hopefully, this document won’t be needed, but if you’re ever in a position where you do need for this to speak for you, it will be there.