Making Advance Care Planning Clear With a Living Will
It is important to talk about end-of-life care and express wishes. With advance directives and a living will, you can save your loved ones difficult decisions by detailing your wishes.
A living will is a written document that explains which medical treatments individuals would want to be used to be kept alive, as well as preferences on other medical decisions such as pain management and organ donation. The document is only used in situations where you are unable to tell your doctor what services you want to receive.
Determining decisions for a living will should come from an individual’s values: Would you want treatment to extend your life in any situation? Would you want treatment only if a cure was possible?
A living will should address multiple end-of-life decisions, including:
- Decide if, when, and for how long you would want to be fed by a feeding tube for nutrients or receive fluids through an IV.
- Determine if and when you would want to be resuscitated by CPR or by a device that delivers an electric shock to stimulate the heart.
- Consider if, when, and for how long you would want to be placed on a mechanical ventilator if you were unable to breathe on your own.
- Determine if, when, and for how long you would want to receive dialysis to remove waste from your blood and manage kidney function.
- Comfort care includes any interventions to keep you comfortable and manage pain, including pain medication, being fed ice chips, and avoiding invasive tests or treatments. Determine what level of care you want to receive.
- Specify if you would like your organs and tissue to be donated.
- Contact a local medical school or donation program if you want to donate your body for scientific study.
A living will can only be honored if your doctors and loved ones know about it. Therefore, it is important to let them know you have a living will before you become ill and to share your wishes with them. Regardless of your condition, sharing your wishes can help to ensure you receive the care you want.
Learn more and start the conversation through the Ohio’s Hospice Choices: Living Well at the End of Life booklet.