Tips on creating
a living will or health care proxy
Newswise — 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.
The end-of-life cases that cause
controversy are few and far between. In most cases, families,
doctors, and nurses make humane 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.