Many people do not establish a living will, whether they believe they are too young to need one, do not know enough about how they work, or simply do not wish to think about end-of-life issues. In fact, a 2020 survey of 2,400 Americans found that just six percent of respondents had a living will. However, there are many compelling reasons for making the effort to create a living will outlining your wishes regarding treatment if you become incapacitated, regardless of your age or current health. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of a living will.
What Is A Living Will?
A living will, which is sometimes referred to as a medical directive or health care declaration, is a legal document that is used to guide medical professionals as well as your family members on your desired course of treatment should you be rendered unable to communicate your wishes due to illness or an accident.
Importance Of A Living Will
A living will is incredibly important because it allows you to exercise your constitutionally protected right to accept or refuse certain types of medical treatment. Because you must be considered of sound mind and physically able to communicate those wishes during emergencies, creating a living will while you are still able to communicate is essential. Different states may have laws that affect which treatments can be included in a living will, so it is important to work with a legal professional or other expert to create this important document.
To Protect You When You Can No Longer Communicate
One of the greatest advantages of having a living will is that it protects your wishes if you end up in a situation where you are unable to communicate. In the absence of a living will, it may be up to doctors or your family members to decide on your treatment, and they may not make the same choices that you would make for yourself. When you create a living will, be sure to give a copy to your doctors and your loved ones to ensure everyone is aware of your wishes.
Prevent Major Arguments Between Family Members
If you suddenly become incapacitated, it can be extremely stressful on your family members to make big decisions about your treatment while they deal with the shock of your condition. There may be conflicting opinions regarding the best course of action, and at a time when emotions are high, this can lead to arguments that may even end relationships. Having a living will can prevent these disagreements because your wishes are clear and no one else has a say in what happens to you.
Give You Control Over Your Medical Treatment And Procedures
A living will gives you control over which medical treatments or procedures will be given to you if you are too ill to communicate. Many individuals have very specific desires regarding which measures they would be willing to undergo in order to keep them alive and which ones they feel are too invasive or risky, particularly those who have religious beliefs guiding certain choices.
For example, you may be willing to undergo CPR but would not want to be placed on a ventilator. A living will allows you to make this type of distinction regarding your treatment options. Some of the medical treatments that may be included in a living will are CPR, shock equipment, antibiotics, palliative care, tissue or organ donation and more.
Reduce Potential Unwanted Medical Bills To Your Family
One medical situation in which a living will can prove particularly useful is if you end up in a coma or a vegetative state. Some people say that they would prefer to die than to spend decades on life support. In addition to having a very poor quality of life, life support can lead to significant medical bills that your family could struggle to pay. This is why it is important to specify your wishes in a living will regarding treatment if you end up in such a state.
Give You Peace Of Mind
Having a living will can give you significant peace of mind. It may be impossible to prevent many types of accidents and illnesses, but living wills give you a certain degree of control over what happens to you in tragic situations. Once you have established one, you will have the reassurance of knowing that your wishes will be carried out, taking a significant burden off of your loved ones.
Talk With Harbor Light Hospice About The Importance Of A Living Will
If you need guidance on the process of setting up a living will, get in touch with the compassionate team at Harbor Light Hospice. As experts on end-of-life care, they can explain the importance of this document and answer any questions you have about how to create one and what to include.