Having an advanced health care directive helps ensure that you have a say in what happens to you if something tragic or unanticipated occurs. A living will is one type of advance directive, and doctors or loved ones may need to reference yours if you fall into a state of incapacitation and are unable to dictate your own wishes.
Before your living will becomes usable, two separate doctors must attest that you either have a terminal illness or have fallen into a state of permanent unconsciousness. What sorts of matters might you make decisions about in your living will?
Whether you want palliative care
Palliative care refers to pain medication or other treatments used to reduce pain or nausea and make you more comfortable. You may address whether you want doctors to try to relieve your pain, should the need arise, in your living will.
Whether you want resuscitation
Your living will may also address whether you want doctors to attempt to resuscitate you if your breathing or heartbeat stops. If you prefer doctors not use CPR or other techniques in their efforts to keep you alive, state as much by including a “do not resuscitate” order in the document.
Whether you want to become an organ donor
You may also use your living will to spell out whether you have interests in donating organs or donating part of all of your body to medical research.
While these are examples of the types of decisions you may make in a living will, this is not a complete summary of all health care-related areas you may wish to address.