A living will, in essence, outlines the type of medical care you wish to include or exclude in the event that you become too ill to actually make an autonomous and informed decision. The directives may consist of your desire not to be given cardiopulmonary resuscitation in case of a cardiac or respiratory arrest.
You may even indicate your request not to receive tube feeding. Then again, it would be a good idea to be informed of the pros and cons of living wills prior to actually drafting one.
Pros Of Living Wills
Since living wills are considered to be legal documents, they need to be signed in the attendance of witnesses. Some states in the U.S. even require the presence of a Notary Public during the signing session. The very obvious importance of making a living will lies in the fact that this legally binding piece of document sheds light on what you – as the patient – want to happen in case something bad occurs and you become too unwell to the point of incapacity.
The phrasing in a living will, however, is meant to be rather vague so as to encompass a wide array of circumstances. In spite of this degree of ambiguity, you would be surprised to know how difficult the situation would be if you did not have one. Needless to say, the apparent beneficiary of this legal document is none other than you – the owner/maker.
In the nonexistence of a living will, some states necessitate the appointment of a patient advocate – someone who would essentially perform the decision-making in behalf of the patient. This individual, also known as the surrogate, may be a spouse, a family member, or a significant and trusted person.
The situation may be a bit different if you have previously drafted your own living will. The indecisiveness in the air during family visits may be assuaged due to the fact that you have already summarized your wishes concerning life support and other health care measures.
In addition, it is never too early to make a living will. For as long as you have reached a legal age and have established the mental capacity to draw out one, then you can go ahead and specify your wishes for the health care provider to follow. Always remember the inevitability and unpredictability of life. It is definitely better to be geared up than to endure the consequences.
Cons Of Living Wills
The cons of living wills involve a certain number of limitations and conflicts. For instance, the vague use of terms may often lead to differing interpretations. You may perceive the directive of “no heroic measures” to encompass artificial nutrition, while a doctor may not view the phrase in that same light.
In addition, living wills only become active when a person is diagnosed of a terminal illness, or when he or she has become incapacitated. Accordingly, physicians may dispute about whether or not a patient’s condition falls under any of these valid categories.
Without the required diagnosis, the individual may continue to receive medical treatment that would have been in contrast to the directive if it were to take effect. That is why a lot of people opt to be more specific in the use of words for their living wills.
The pros and cons of living wills should always be taken into account when making one. Remember that you will only be able to improve the draft after you have considered the negative aspects of the situation, as well as the possible ambiguities in the document.