Suppose you become seriously ill or injured and cannot communicate or independently make medical decisions. Who would speak for you? What kind of treatments would you want or not want? How would your loved ones cope with the uncertainty and stress?
It’s why you should consider making a living will, a legal document that specifies your medical preferences when you cannot express yourself. It can help you avoid unwanted medical interventions, respect your dignity and values and ease the burden on your family and caregivers.
How a living will works
A living will differs from a last will, which deals with your property and assets after your death. It is used only when you are alive but mentally or physically incapacitated and unable to communicate your medical preferences, like in a coma.
You can specify what life-sustaining treatments you would accept or refuse, such as being put on artificial ventilation or feeding tubes. A living will also allows you to give instructions for pain relief, organ donation and other end-of-life care directives.
It is important to note that you can modify or revoke your living will instructions when you wish, as long as you are legally competent. In addition, you can appoint someone to make healthcare decisions for you or carry out the instructions in your living will.
A living will is more than just a piece of paper
A living will is a sure way of expressing your wishes when you may not be able to do so due to incapacitation. Life is unpredictable, and preparing for the unexpected is not just responsible — it’s empowering.
Therefore, it’s important to understand how living wills work and what steps you should take to ensure your voice is heard before it’s too late.