Archive for October 2nd, 2006

What Is A Living Will…

October 2, 2006

We seldom discuss about a Living Will because we believe we’re healthy enough that nothing is going to happen to us.  Wikipedia defines a Will as a human trait that produces conscious choices.  But have you ever wonder…what happens if we are sick enough to make those choices…..

116782631.jpgJust heard the news from a friend regarding the sudden passing of her father complaining only of abdominal pain before collapsing.  This sudden death again is almost always heart attack which has been shown not to be sudden but should have manifested signs and symptoms prior to the event.  And this weekend I was in Dumaguete to pay my respect to my uncle who passed away after several months of being bed ridden due to a lung disease secondary to chronic smoking.  Even the movement of eating caused him to be short of breath.  This prompted me to write something about advance directives so our loved ones will know what we want if cases of life decisions come in but we as patients are no longer capable of giving.  Any competent individual 18 years old and above can write these directives.

Part of our training at the Mayo Clinic is talking to patients about this right of the patient.  The following information is sourced from the Mayo Clinic protocol with the sole purpose of public information:

Living will. “This written, legal document spells out the types of medical treatments and life-sustaining measures you do and don’t want, such as mechanical respiration and tube feeding.”

Medical power of attorney (POA).” the medical POA form is a legal document that designates an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you’re unable to do so. The medical POA document is different from the power of attorney form that authorizes someone to make financial transactions for you. If you don’t appoint a medical POA, the decisions about your care default to your spouse. If you aren’t legally married, decisions fall to your adult children or your parents.”

It is also possible to combine these two types of advance directives with a conversation with your loved ones.  Every situation may be different because there are medical conditions where long term prognosis will be good and others not.  

It is therefore best that we talk about what’s in our living will and explain how our values shaped our decisions.

Planning option What does it do? Benefits Limitations
Living will Details your feelings on certain medical treatments and interventions. Gives your doctors and loved ones an idea of the care you’d prefer if you can’t speak for yourself. You can’t possibly plan ahead for all situations. In those instances, your doctor and loved ones would use this as a guide.
Talking with your loved ones Lets you elaborate on your feelings about medical treatment. Helps your family better understand your wishes. Gives a greater understanding of your approach to each situation. A conversation isn’t as legally binding as written instructions.

 If You Love Your Family…

Have A Living Will.

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