Living Wills: Comfort and dignity when needed most

Do you know what a Living Will is? It’s surprising how many people haven’t heard of them. Yet they’re the easiest and best method of maintaining your independence and dignity in the event of an accident or serious illness.

Writing a Will is the best way of ensuring that your wishes are respected after death, and that your estate passes on to the people whom you care about most.

With a Living Will however, otherwise known as an Advanced Medical Directive, you can let people know how you wish to be treated if you become medically unable to communicate yourself.

This is becoming more likely as we are all starting to live longer. Better treatments and increased survival rates make it more likely that at some point we’ll find either ourselves or someone we know in a situation where they are too ill to communicate.

This leaves our friends and family in the difficult position of having to make those decision’s themselves.

This is actually the main reason why people choose to do it. Documenting your wishes takes an awful lot of pressure off those closest to you, as they don’t then have to try and second guess what your wishes are.

In our experience this alone makes it one of the most important legal documents any individual can write.

A living will lets you express your views on a range of issues that only you can really answer.

Primarily these should focus on the type of care you do and don’t want, including:

  • Do you want to be resuscitated if you begin to slip away?

  • What kind of treatments do you expressly not want to receive?

  • Would you want the doctors to use all artificial life support procedures and drugs even if it led to new illnesses and problems?

  • If you began to lose your dignity or became violent, would you want drugs to address this even if they made your condition worse?

These are big questions, far too big to leave to your friends and family to argue out amongst themselves.But there are simpler ones too

  • Who do you want with you in your final moments?

  • Is there anyone you particularly don’t want in the room?

  • Who should care for your pets during your illness?

  • What music would you like to have on in the room?

It’s important to realise that a Living Will is not binding by law. Ultimately doctors make decisions based on the medical needs of the patient.

But having a Living Will does mean that your wishes and opinions will be seriously taken into account. It also lets your family know what it is you want as they decide on the best course of treatments and care for you.

Above all, it’s the best method of ensuring that your values and beliefs are articulated even when you’re too unwell to express them independently.