Get It Together: How Living Wills Save Time, Money and Lives
Less than half of America’s over 65 population has a living will. This shocking news, made public by Consumer Reports, should cause Americans everywhere to re-evaluate their end-of -life priorities and what they are doing to avoid costly mistakes.
Consider the following 4 facts about living wills.
- Not having a living will means someone else will make your decisions. Sound scary? It should. The easiest way to communicate your healthcare wishes is to put them in a living will and notify your family about what these wishes include. Not only will this ensure your needs are met, it could save time and frustration for those who love you most.
- Having a living will is a good idea for anyone 18 or older. No one wants to think about end-of-life decisions, especially someone who is still as young as 18. But at 18, patients are considered adults by the medical community. So anyone 18 or older with end-of-life wishes should consider creating a living will.
- Naming a healthcare proxy is a good idea if you don’t want the state to do it for you. A proxy is someone who will make your healthcare decisions for you in the event that you cannot. In the situation where family dynamics are not straightforward or where the state may pick someone you would not choose, picking your proxy is paramount. Though the conversation can be uncomfortable, it is best to have the discussion with someone before you are ever in a situation when you need him or her to act on your behalf. Be sure you add the name of your desired proxy to your living will.
- Emergency personnel generally don’t take the time to read before acting. Living wills are of critical importance, but especially in a situation where 9-1-1 is called, emergency techs aren’t going to sit and read a thick document before tending to the patient in crisis. This means end-of-life directives should be written in a straightforward manner in your living will and should be communicated to family members who can then communicate with emergency personnel.
When it comes to end-of-life decisions, it is crucial that this information be recorded in a living will. Additionally, copies of this document should be made and distributed to close friends and family who would be made aware of your situation. Communication is always key.