Living wills are legally binding documents that stipulate the kinds of medical procedures you’d like when faced with a life-threatening injury or illness. These documents are a crucial part of the estate planning process, and without one in place, your friends and family will be left to make decisions on their own. The following are just a few of the medical procedures that can be included within a living will so you can make the most informed decision possible about end-of-life care.
If your lungs are unable to operate on their own, mechanical ventilation will be applied to help them breathe for you. Some people stipulate in their living wills that they don’t wish to be treated with a mechanical ventilator if breathing is compromised. In other cases, a person might state they only want to be connected with a ventilator for a certain period of time.
Often referred to as CPR, cardiopulmonary resuscitation is used to re-start a heart that’s stopped beating. CPR can be performed manually by medical staff or by way of a machine known as a defibrillator. These devices provide an electric shock to the heart to get it beating again. A do not resuscitate order within a living will prevent the staff from using these life-saving measures during an emergency medical situation.
Some medical procedures aren’t intended to preserve life, but are instead used to make a person more comfortable when experiencing a serious illness or injury. This is known as palliative care, which entails the use of pain medications to make a person feel at ease. Palliative care can also involve releasing a person from the hospital and allowing them to go home, where comfort care will be further provided.