End of Life Decision Making

What would happen if…
You experienced a sudden, traumatic injury or brain hemorrhage. It is possible that extraordinary medical care could keep you alive, but you would be in a vegetative state or have extremely limited mental functioning. Your family may face a decision point.

Do they want extraordinary medical care to be provided? Do you?
Do they want you kept alive on a ventilator or with feeding tubes? Do you?

What would happen if…
You were elderly and had suffered several heart attacks, as well as ongoing medical problems with emphysema and diabetes. You feel you have lived a long and full life and would rather that the doctors not resuscitate you if you have another heart attack.

Will your doctor honor your medical care wishes? Will your family agree?

Statistically speaking, studies show that family members DO NOT make health care decisions based upon the previously expressed desires of the ill family member (if they even knew them). They make end-of-life medical care decisions based upon what they believe is best. After all, they will be the ones living with those decisions—and they love you.

The only way that you can ensure that your end-of-life decisions are honored is to communicate those desires to your family now and to make them into legally binding documents. 

Health Care Proxy

A Health Care Proxy (called a Living Will in some states) allows you to designate a legal representative to make medical decisions in the event that you cannot communicate your wishes. In essence, this is a Power of Attorney specifically for medical treatment and end of life decision making.

Advance Health Care Directives

An Advance Health Care Directive sometimes accompanies a Health Care Proxy; it allows you to state your wishes for medical care and life support in greater detail.

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