Create a living will

Prepare now, because you may not be able to communicate your wishes later.

The most common type of statement in a living will looks like this:

“If I suffer an incurable, irreversible illness, disease, or condition and my attending physician determines that my condition is terminal, I direct that life-sustaining measures that would serve only to prolong my dying be withheld or discontinued.”

I know some folks who write in, “You can put food in front of me, but I will choose whether to eat it or not.”

Living wills do seem to make a difference. According to the NYTimes, researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor combed through the records of over 4,000 individuals over age 60 and found that almost a third of these patients would eventually become too incapacitated to make the necessary decisions regarding medical treatment at the end of life. But among them, nearly all of those with a living will requesting limited or comfort care only ultimately did receive such care at the end of their lives. And those patients who specified all care possible were far more likely to receive aggressive care than those who did not request it.

Web sites that help you create living wills: Caring Connections and Aging With Dignity. You can download your state’s forms at Caring Connections.

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Meika Loe

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