It’s these kinds of discussions, along with a living will and a durable power of attorney, that speak for you when you are no longer able to communicate with your health care providers.
We can’t stress enough the importance of making these decisions now. Failing to do so could place an additional burden on members of your family at a time when they need no additional grief.
This topic is so important that Medicare now pays for some end-of-life planning counseling sessions (to prepare living wills and such) with health care professionals. These sessions are entirely voluntary and strictly between doctor and patient.
End-of-life planning should be something that delivers peace of mind to patients and spares their family from the stress and anxiety of guessing about the end-of-life wishes of their loved ones. That’s why the best time to talk about a living will is before you have a life-threatening illness or injury.
It’s important you talk with your doctor, friends and family about your wishes. Then, when you are certain about your decision, sign a living will that can be downloaded from various websites on the Internet.
You should also give copies of your living will to family members, your doctors and others who would be responsible for seeing to your wishes. If your doctor does not want to follow your living will, he is required to find you another physician.
It is also essential that you keep a copy of your living will with your important papers in a place that is easily accessible to your family. A person may cancel or change his living will at any time orally or in writing.
In addition to a living will, it is also a good idea to have a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. This legal contract gives a specific person the responsibility to make decisions for you when you are too sick to speak, including making sure your living will is carried out as you have directed.