There is no doubt that modern medicine can successfully extend life when someone is seriously ill but in some cases, prolonging life might not be the best option. If there is a good chance to make a full recovery, or even close to a complete recovery, most people would likely opt to receive whatever medical treatment is necessary. But in cases where quality of life might be severely limited, prolonging life may only lengthen the suffering.
This is why a Living Will is so important.
There are a number of situations that life support might become necessary – a car accident for example, or a stroke or heart attack.
Standard procedure calls for medical personnel to do what they can to save the life so if that means resuscitation and/or life support, then that’s what they’ll typically do. But is it what you want?
If you have strong feelings about when life support should not be used, now is the time to make those feelings known. One of the first things you should do is talk with your loved ones about your wishes under such circumstances. Let them know how you would want the situation handled if you are in a position to where you cannot let the doctors know your wishes.
Another important step is to ensure that you have Advanced Medical Directives in place; these are a set of legal documents that include a Living Will, and a Medical Power of Attorney. The Living Will is your instructions concerning the extent of care you want under certain circumstances, such as if you want life support or if you want a “Do Not Resuscitate” order. The Medical Power of Attorney is a document that names a healthcare proxy that will make medical decisions for you if you can’t do it yourself.
With these documents in place your doctors and family will have no doubts about what you would want. Not only will a Living Will ensure that your wishes are followed, but it will also free your loved ones from making one of the most difficult decisions they may ever have to make.
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