People do not like to think about becoming so ill to the point of having no control over what happens to them medically. It happens, and the chances of it happening increases as you grow older. This is why it is vitally important to have an advance directive. You never know what’s going to happen, but you can prepare for the unexpected.
What Is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive is a legal document. In this legal document, you will detail what you would like to have happen when you are at the end of your life. This removes a huge burden from your family members because they will not have to make decisions for you. They can simply follow through with your wishes as stated in your advance directive.
Another way to say advance directive is living will. Doctors and hospitals often ask if you have one when you check in just in case something happens to you while you are in their care.
Please know the instructions in the living will are only used if you are dying or unconscious. If you are able to accept or refuse medical care, they will follow through with the instructions on the living will.
What Is Included in the Living Will?
When you work with a lawyer to create the legal document, you will need to make some big decisions. You need to let him know if you agree to dialysis if the doctor treating you believes that it is needed. Some people do not want to undergo this treatment, no matter what, so that’s why you’ll need to decide on that.
Breathing machines is another consideration. If you stop breathing, you will die. A breathing machine can prolong your life. This can sometimes lead to recovery, which is why some people agree to it. For other people, they just want to allow their family members enough time to make it to their bedside before they die.
Resuscitation can restart your heart if it stops or help you start breathing if you’ve stopped. Again, some people do not want to have this done because it can be quite traumatic to their body and to those around them. However, there are many people who want it done because it’s another chance for survival.
Tube feeding can prolong your life when you’re unable to eat due to your medical condition. Without tube feeding, you would likely starve. Some people do not want to die this way, which is why they elect to have it. Others believe that if they must eat this way, they should not be alive.
Organ and tissue donation is another important part of the living will. When you do die, do you want your healthy organs and tissues donated to people who could use them? Some people do it because it provides others a chance to live when they couldn’t, while others do not want it done because they want to be buried with everything they had inside of them at the time of death.
Finally, what you would like your loved ones to do with your remains should be included. You can have detailed information or simply ask to be cremated or buried.
Religion and Living Will Instructions
Many of the decisions that have to do with a living will relate to religious beliefs. It may make the decisions easier, or more difficult depending on your faith. It might be a good idea to schedule an appointment with your religious advisor. He can help you make these decisions based on the beliefs of your church.
As a personal consultant, I often recommend that my clients look into an advance directive (living will). It’s good to know that your wishes will be fulfilled in case you’re unable to communicate them. Do it for you and for your loved ones. They will have a much easier time dealing with your medical care when they know exactly what you want.
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