Living Will Form vs. Health Care Power of Attorney Form

A will to live, formally called a living will form, is a type of advance directive. These legal forms are usually required to be notarized or signed and dated by witnesses.

A living will form usually covers specific directions as to what kind of medical treatment your caregivers will give you or are not allowed to give you. Some people go as far as to refuse food and water if they become incapacitated. A will to live is just that though, it is intended to force caregivers to give you the kind of medical treatment you want if you can’t communicate those directives yourself. You are considered unable to communicate when you become incapacitated or brain damaged.

Another form similar to a living will form is a power of attorney for health care form. A power of attorney for health care form appoints some one you trust of your choosing to direct your health care decisions.

End-of-life health care decisions can be very difficult and emotional on your family; 1/3rd of Americans have had to make end-of-life health care decisions for their family. A living will form will keep your family members from making these critical, emotional, and frightening decisions.

You are also entitled to fill out a do not resuscitate order if you so choose to do so, this order will not allow your caregivers to put you on life support. Often times depending on the hospital and jurisdiction they will withhold do not resuscitate orders until their confirmed or simply not even recognize their legal power. Most hospitals will not perform intubations or resuscitation only when faced with these orders but they will treat infections, pump food and fluids directly into your blood stream, use pain management, and adequate comfort care are often times continued.

These types of forms are valid as soon as they are notarized or witnessed, copies should be given to your doctor, family, and any one else you feel may need a copy.

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Death by Health Care Rationing

Some European nations place a financial value on a single year of life. If an individual’s health care exceeds this amount, health care treatment is denied. Do we, as Americans, really want the government deciding whether we live or die? It is time to take matters into our own hands by learning about advanced directives, palliative and hospice care.

Do not allow proposed health care rationing decide your end of life plans, make your own plans by completing an advanced directive, a document outlining actions to be taken for an individual related to medical care in the event the person is unable to make their own health care decisions. Only about thirty percent of individuals have a living will. The other seventy percent may experience undesirable end of life care that includes ventilation, mechanical feeding and other invasive care to extend end of life without providing quality of life. If you do not want to experience a death with others making decisions for you, complete your advanced directives now.

Many individuals believe family members are able to make end of life decisions and are surprised to learn that family members cannot make these decisions without the presence of a legal document called a living will. Without a medical power of attorney no one can make healthcare decisions for you in the event that you become unconscious or unable to make decisions. Without a living will you may be kept alive on life support indefinitely and may receive life sustaining medical treatment that you would not wish.

What is a living will or advanced directive? A document that provides direction for specific procedures, for example administration of artificial nutrition, blood transfusions, dialysis and other treatments of prolonged maintenance that the individual does or does not wish to occur to extend his or her life.

What is a durable medical power of attorney? A document that allows an individual to appoint another individual, often a family member, to inquire about health care and to make health care decisions in the event the person making the designation is unable to make their wishes known.

What are the 5 wishes? A document providing questions and guidance to allow an individual to thoroughly outline medical and related wishes regarding end of life wishes.

What is palliative care and hospice care? This is pain management and end of life care that your physician will not likely discuss with you. The goal of most physicians and the medical profession is to preserve life, in some cases by offering chemotherapy, radiation and experimental medical treatments that offer little quality of life but financially feed the system and the pockets of the medical providers. By self advocating and learning about palliative and hospice care you control your own pain management and end of life care.

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