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jaytkay's avatar

Your advice on a living will?

Asked by jaytkay (23303 points ) November 24th, 2012

Hello, all.

I need to make a living will, giving direction to my family in case I become unable to make my own decisions,

Nothing terrible is looming in my future, I just need to write down my wishes. Most people should do this, for your family’s sake, if not your own.

So of course I will research and I will talk to an attorney.

But right now I simply want your thoughts. Opinions, wisdom, anecdotes, wisecracks – whatever. Everything you say will be welcome.

TIA!

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15 Answers

Sunny2's avatar

Do it! It’s never too early and it could be too late.
And then tell everybody who might be involved when the time comes, so they all know your intentions.

Judi's avatar

My son got great info from NAMI when he took their peer to peer course. He’s bi-polar and it helped him feel like he had control over his destiny.

Jeruba's avatar

I’d say don’t call for it to be a joint or group decision among family members unless you know they’re going to agree…in which case, does it need to be more than one person? You sure don’t need people wrangling or deadlocked when it comes to crucial decision-making on your behalf.

Judi's avatar

Is this because you have an illness or just in case?
My son was very specific. He did not want to go to certain hospitals and did not want to take certain meds.

Bellatrix's avatar

Firstly, well done. I have been calling on my children to do this for about two years. If something terrible happens it will save your family some grief knowing with certainty what you want.

I had a conversation with my children about different scenarios and what I would want and what they might want. It raised some interesting points. One felt very strongly she did not want to donate her skin, another felt uncomfortable about donating her eyes. So think about the worst case scenario and if you are good with donating your organs are there some you don’t feel okay about or is everything on the table.

My husband has had to take his mother and sister off life support. Again, talk about it with your family and see if you can set down any particular circumstances and what you would want. The discussion may generate key things you should include.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with @Jeruba best to name one person. However, making one person legally responsible still does not dismiss them from pressures from the family. A distant relative of mine by marriage has been kept alive much longer than the majority of her children want because on son cannot let her go. They do not need all the children to agree to stop feeding her (which is how she would be allowed to die) but they won’t go against this one desperate child, adult child. So, my advice is do the living will, but also discuss with those who will be most affected your general wishes, even if you don’t specifically talk about your living will and all the legalities, or who you have chosen to make decisions. But, do discuss with the person you choose that they have been chosen, rather make sure they are ok with the responsibility.

@Judi The OP stated nothing terrible looming.

bkcunningham's avatar

If you are serious, make sure you have more than just a Living Will. A Living Will is just one type of advanced directive, @jaytkay. You should also have a medical Power of Attorney. Give a copies to your healthcare provider/s and keep a card on your person that says you have an advanced directive with a phone number of someone to contact.

jaytkay's avatar

Dang, this is awesome, I am hearing stuff I never even imagined!

More, please. Thanks!!

And yes, @Judi this is just in case. As @JLeslie noted, I do not have any specifics to consider.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham makes a good point all the various “powers” get confusing to me. Your lawyer will lay it all out for you I’m sure. I have decision making and POA for a couple people in my family. Some regarding everything from finances to other decisions and some medical. So much legal stuff.

Judi's avatar

I know that my sons instructions were to be as specific as you can think of. There is a big gap between being incompetent (even from a bad car accident) and being terminal. That’s the spot that people fail to cover in their living wills.

marinelife's avatar

Designate someone you trust to make medical decisions for you if you are not able. Give them your medical power of attorney.

Decide whether you would want a feeding tube inserted if you were otherwise unresponsive.

Decide whether you want water withheld.

Decide if you want to be resuscitated if you have a terminal condition.

bkcunningham's avatar

My mom had every type of advanced directive known to man. When she was transferred from ICU in one hospital to ICU in another hospital, we discovered that the paperwork didn’t transfer with her across the state line. At one point in her hospital stay, a physician was ready to put her on a respirator, which she nor my father wanted.

My dad, who at the time was in his early-80s, was home sleeping when this happened in the middle of the night while I was with her. It was a hiccup I hadn’t expected and thankfully her oxygen levels went up enough and she wasn’t vented or whatever they call it when they put you on a respirator. We had to wait until my dad, who had medical POA arrived in the morning to sign the new paperwork. That is a lesson I won’t forget and like to pass along.

josie's avatar

Draw it up while you still know you’re alive

wundayatta's avatar

Have one.

Jeruba's avatar

Afterthought: It’s best to have a proper will (including advance directive) drawn up by a competent attorney. But before we had one, I was able to put something together using a program called Quicken Willmaker Plus, from Nolo. It helped me start the thinking process, and it was a better-than-nothing substitute until we could carry out the formal steps with an attorney.

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