A living will is a legal document that states the decisions you wish to be made during medical care, when you are not able to make those decisions. They are not limited to the elderly, rather recommenced to everyone over 18. However, elderly have a higher likelihood of suffering from an incapacitating medical event that can render them unable to express their medical care desires. Living wills are the best way to manage health care decisions when you are unable to make those decisions yourself.
To create a living will you can have a lawyer create one for you or get the form online, at office supply stores or from state government hospitals and hospices. These forms will ask questions about health care options available that may differ among states. More advanced questions will include instructions for mechanical ventilation, antibiotics, artificial nutrition, artificial hydration, pain medication, oxygen supply and “do not resuscitate” order. You can also assign a proxy or power of attorney to make medical decisions for you when you are unable to make them for yourself. Most of the time these decisions will not be easy ones and can include things such as withholding artificial nutrition or hydration or issuing a “do not resuscitate” order.
Before doing anything, it is important to consider all options, how you feel about each option and what each options means will happen with you. Consider all the advanced decisions that will require answers and what type comfort measures to put in place. And if choosing a power of attorney, choose a person who is close and who you know will be able to make medical decisions if you are not able to. Once you have made all the decisions and created a living will it’s important to let the power of attorney if assigned and family members know. It is also wise to carry a copy if ever going to the hospital to have on file so the hospital is aware in case anything happens.