Within your own personal health care there is the end of life issues that can occur. Knowing how you want these handled is important, so that there are not other problems that can arise if the situation were to occur. Even where is a living will in place, a power of attorney should also be in place as well, this helps to ensure that all issues are thoroughly covered and you know you will be taken care of the way you want to in the event of end of life.
A living will covers what to do and not do in the event that there are end of life decisions to make. This document only goes into effect when you are no longer able to make decisions yourself and you are incapacitated. This could be for numerous reasons, from a coma to an injury that has occurred. It also covers if you are completely mentally incapacitated as well. A living will typically covers:
- Medical Care That Prolongs Life - This is care and treatment that will prolong your life. This could be blood transfers, dialysis, drugs, surgery or respirators for instance.
- DNR or Do Not Resuscitate Orders - These stipulations work with the above in the sense that you can specify whether you wish to be resuscitated or receive CPR. These types of orders should be specified to the hospital and doctors you work with, as well as wearing a medical alert bracelet that specifies this decision.
- Food and Water That Prolongs Life - This specifies whether you want to receive food and water through external means. This can happen when there is an injury or a coma and a person can only live through intravenous food and water. Typically when these are stopped a person will pass away from dehydration. You can specify if you want this type of treatment, the conditions when this should happen and for how long this should go on for.
- Management Of Pain - This is also called comfort care as well and it is when you decide to die naturally, but not in pain. You are kept comfortable while dieing to improve the quality of life and dignity in the event of death. You can specify that drugs do be administered to keep you comfortable, but not in pain.
Power Of Attorney
Even when there is a living will in place, a durable power of attorney for health care decisions is necessary and recommended. The agent is given only as much power as you decide and can cover all decisions that the living will does not cover. If you do not specify the amount of power given, many states allow the agent comprehensive power when it comes to end of life decisions. A durable power of attorney for health care can cover, but is not limited to:
- The power to consent to medical treatments.
- The power to deny medical treatments.
- This is as long as it does not go against anything that is already in your living will.
- Making the decision of which medical facility to use.
- They can make the decision of which doctors and other personnel to use for your treatment.
- They can go to court on your behalf to determine whether to with hold or continue medical treatment.
- The power to decide what to do with your remains and whether or not to donate your organs.
- Make sure to specify your wishes on these matters in the living will and even in the power of attorney document when you have direct feelings about these practices.
- They can access your medical records.
- They typically do have visitation rights.
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