People are living longer, which means more may face mentally debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s or other long term illnesses. These people may no longer be able to make their own medical decisions. So, how are decisions made? If there are no disability planning documents, a court will name a guardian to make all decisions for that person. Having someone else make all of your decisions may seem scary. If so, you should use a Living Will along with other disability planning documents.
State Your Preferences
You should use a Living Will if you have specific desires regarding your medical care and treatment. Do you prefer not to be put on a respirator? Or maybe you don’t want to face life-prolonging surgery if you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. If you do have preferences about life-prolonging procedures, you should use a Living Will to state your desires.
Many Living Wills focus on both life-prolonging and palliative treatments. Life-prolonging treatments are those that extend a life when a diagnosis of terminal illness or injury has been issued. Palliative treatment is pain relief methods used to alleviate pain from a terminal illness or injury. Hospice care often focuses on palliative treatment when a patient has decided to forego life-prolonging treatments.
Assist Health Care Agent
By stating your medical wishes in your Living Will, you can assist your health care agent or court-supervised guardian. If you have a Medical Power of Attorney, you can name a health care agent to make medical decisions for you. He or she can use your Living Will as guidance. If you have not named a health care agent, a court-appointed guardian will make your medical choices. He or she can also use your Living Will as a blueprint. It is best, however, to also name a health care agent and so you can go over your Living Will with that person in advance.