News stories this spring prompted many people to think about, if not
actually prepare, living wills or health care proxies. These documents
give you the chance to explain what medical treatments you would and
wouldn't want in certain situations or to name someone to make these
decisions for you, should you be physically or mentally unable to do
so. The June issue of the Harvard Health Letter explains these documents and also gives readers practical advice on how to complete a living will or health care proxy.
It can be hard to think about what you'd want in specific situations because of all the variables involved, the Harvard Health Letter
notes. No amount of detail will cover every situation. So instead,
focus on your goals for your end-of-life care. Many people name pain
management as a top goal. Maybe you want to live as long as possible.
Or maybe you want to be kept alive in certain situations long enough
for your family to be with you. In any case, you don't have to write a
living will from scratch. Forms with scenarios and fill-in-the-blank
questions are available to guide you.
end-of-life cases that cause controversy are few and far between. In
most cases, families, doctors, and nurses make hu¬mane decisions using
common sense and compassion, and written documents aren't needed.
They're for the exception, not the rule. But by having a living will
and designating a health care proxy, we narrow the chances of dying in
a way we wouldn't want and may spare loved ones heartache when it's
time to make difficult decisions.
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