Do I Need a Living Will?

senior couple talking about a living will

It can be emotionally difficult to contemplate end-of-life care. Many people put it off, but once done, advance directives like a living will can provide peace of mind for an individual and their loved ones.

While both are considered wills, a last will and testament is different than a living will. A last will and testament directs what should happen to a person’s possessions, dependents and finances — and it takes effect after the person has passed. A living will outlines for doctors and loved ones what type of medical treatment a person would want in a situation when they’re alive but incapacitated or unable to communicate. A living will would only be referenced after a physician has declared the patient to be in a consistent vegetative state, irreversible coma, advanced dementia, or the end stages of a terminal medical condition.

 

Living Will and Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a legal document that empowers another person to make medical or financial decisions in the event the signer becomes mentally or physically incapacitated. The person given durable power of attorney can help ensure health care providers follow the instructions provided in a person’s living will. Having both a durable power of attorney and a living will is the best way to make sure a person’s specific wishes are followed. 

Many people give durable power of attorney to a trusted friend or family member, but some appoint a lawyer or a professional advocate. There’s no wrong choice. Everyone should name someone they’re comfortable with.

 

What’s Included in a Living Will?

Every person’s living will  may look a little different because it’s based on the individual’s personal preferences. Within this legal document, someone can outline their preferences for any of the following situations:

  • CPR to restart the heart after cardiac arrest
  • Dialysis in the event of kidney failure
  • Tube feeding if a person can’t eat on their own
  • Mechanical ventilation to control breathing
  • Antibiotics or antivirals to help fight infections
  • Organ and tissue donations — if someone’s a donor, they may need to specify what measures can be taken
  • Palliative treatment to control pain when moved to hospice care

A living will can also provide instructions if you’d like to donate your body to science. When drafting your advance directives, contact a medical school or donation program to register a planned donation.

 

Why Draft a Living Will Now?

Though discussing end-of-life issues can be uncomfortable, when a person makes their wishes clear and legal, it can be a relief. They have the certainty that their directions will be in place, even if they can’t express them at the time of a medical incident.

And a living will isn’t just for the individual drafting it. Detailed directions can be a great help to loved ones in a situation where they’re likely already stressed and frightened. They won’t have to make the toughest decisions and wonder if they made the right choice.

At The Village at Gleannloch Farms, we work hard to make sure retirement years are fun and vibrant, but as a Life Plan Community, we also know the deep-rooted comfort people feel when they have a plan in place for life’s unexpected events. If you’d like to find out more about long-term care plans at our community, contact us. We’d be happy to provide more details.