A living will, also known as an advance directive or health care directive, is a legal document specifying your wishes regarding end-of-life care in the event you become incapacitated in some way. By definition, a living will is a written statement detailing a person’s desires regarding their medical treatment in circumstances in which they are no longer able to express informed consent.
The living will is often confused with a different legal document, the last will and testament, but has nothing to do with appointing an executor to your estate, or transferring your assets after death. Instead, a living will or advance directive comes into effect when you are alive but either mentally or physically unable to make health care decisions for yourself.
In the event that you cannot make decisions regarding your health care needs, the advance directive will be signed by a competent person who can provide guidance for such decisions. Along with a living will, other types of advance directives include:
• Health Care Power of Attorney (POA): A health care power of attorney is a document that legally designates a person as a health care agent or proxy to make medical decisions for you in the event that you become incapacitated.
• Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR): Even if your living will does not contain the DNR order, your doctor can include it in your medical chart. A DNR order is a request to not be given CPR should you stop breathing.
Designating someone you trust as a health care agent or POA is an important step to take, even though it’s not necessary to have both a living will and a POA. Many take comfort in the peace of mind that can come with knowing a specific person will make decisions on their behalf. The designated person would interpret what your wishes would be in situations not specifically spelled out in your living will.
There’s no time like the present to start planning for the future. Life can be unpredictable, and if the unexpected occurs you will want to be prepared and will want your wishes to be made known. Plus, you can help minimize the stress facing your loved ones who may have differing opinions about your care.
Any preferences you have regarding your medical care should go into your living will. This document can communicate what life-sustaining measures you would like taken such as resuscitation after cardiac death, tube-feeding if you’re unable to eat, respiration or ventilation when you’re no longer to breathe on your own, and palliative care for pain management.
Oklahoma residents should sign an advance directive that complies with Oklahoma law. You can obtain a copy from the Oklahoma Bar Association, or contact your attorney.
Let Concordia provide additional peace of mind with the continuum of care we offer in our beautiful senior living community in OKC. We have a variety of available residences, so contact Concordia today to learn more or to schedule a visit!