Why it is Important to have a Living Will

A living will can help a person when they are unable to help themselves. This legal document serves as the voice of the person who may be terminally ill, deceased, or unable to comprehend their health situation. There are many things to think about when setting up a living will legal document.

When preparing a living will, a person should think about how they want to live if they were to have a terminal illness. They may also want to include their preferences for end-of-life circumstances when creating the living will. As it is not easy speaking of death, and many people do not want to bring this topic up with their senior loved ones, it is necessary for someone to do when considering preparing a legal document such as a living will. The family and the caregiver will gain peace of mind by knowing that their loved one will have their wishes granted when they are unable to declare their wishes.

The discussion regarding the living will can be tough but there are a few tips on how to have this talk with your aging loved one. One way this may be easier is if you prepare a living will or advance health care document for yourself. You can then show your loved one the document, which will help them understand that it is a good idea to have a living will. You will need to help your loved one think about what will be important when they are dying or if they are incapacitated, and where they would like to be at. Some people want to age and die at home instead of a hospital or hospice care facility. Determine if home hospice is important to your loved one.

The next step is having your loved one decide who they would like to have speak for them when they can no longer handle themselves. This may be a group discussion amongst your family and close advisors. Your loved one needs to decide on someone who will make the decisions for them or support their choices. This is a very emotional job for someone who may be close to their loved one, so it is important to choose someone who is connected deeply with the welfare and well-being of their loved one. This person should also have a bold personality and be very close if possible to their loved one. If they are faced with a decision, they will be able to make the decision without interference by others. If they are physically close, they can be near when they are needed. Family members may not be as suitable as close friends, because close friends will most likely make an objective decision in a difficult situation. Whomever the aging adult chooses must agree to signing this legal document. Legal documents can be drawn to protect the wishes of your loved one if they are in-depth, but often the Living Will can state this information. Be aware that some states require the living will to be signed and dated by a healthcare professional or attorney. Check with your Area Agency on Aging to find out what makes your living will a legal document.

There are a few situations that will need to be addressed when preparing a living will: would your loved one want life-sustaining treatment, what types of life-sustaining treatment would they want and under what conditions, include other medical procedures that may need considered due to the family history, if there will be organ donating, what pain control preferences they have, and most importantly where they want treated whether it is at-home care or long-term care.

Preparing a living will does not have to be challenging because there are many forms available online that you can use as a reference. These generic living will documents are available as planning tools and resources. They are not exactly the legal document, but they will help you map out what will be needed in the official living will. These forms often help caregivers speak with their loved ones about living wills and what is needed for the document. Ask a local Geriatric Care Manager for access to a sample living will for more reference.

As your loved one’s preferences are changing, make sure to update the living will accordingly. Encourage your loved one to look over their living will and to make sure their wishes are being met in the document. If there is a need to rewrite the document, make sure to place the new document in each location that the prior living will was placed. This updated living will should prove to follow the wishes the aging senior chooses, and should prove a legal document in the state the senior resides. As each state is different in their policy regarding the legality of a living will, make sure to check with a Geriatric Care Manager, an Elder Law Attorney, or your local senior center for more information.

A living will is a document every person should have, regardless of their situation. Talk with your aging loved ones about getting a living will established today.

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