Last week, I discussed living wills, sometimes called advance directives.
That generated huge interest. Calls and e-mails poured in. End of life
planning is hard. Advance care plans are designed to ensure that your
wishes are honored when you become unable to speak for yourself after
an accident or during terminal illness. One will take a huge load off
your family as life ends.
Project Grace organization helps with preparation of advance directives. Call my office for contact
information. One question to me was: "Does a living will encourage
my death?" No! You are simply giving instructions for the future
about the medical care you will permit such as surgery, artificial breathing,
and nutrition when there's little or no hope for recovery. One of
the best things about an advance directive is that it becomes active only
when you are beyond telling your doctor and family what your choices are
for medical treatment.
Something a person might decide on is a "No CPR." Why would one
choose that? The success rate of cardiopulmonary resuscitation is low.
It almost always works on TV drama shows, but reality is the opposite.
For victims of cardiac arrest outside a hospital, the success rate is
3-5 percent while the probability of irreversible brain damage is fairly high.
Many patients dying from terminal diseases may not want doctors to prevent
them from dying in a natural, peaceful way. So their choices can include
"No CPR" and "DNR," meaning do not resuscitate. Another
question that came to me about living wills is this: "What if I change
my mind after signing an advance directive?"
Advance care directives are never final until your capacity to make a decision
and communicate it is lost. You can destroy the document. It's in
place only to express your wishes, so it's changeable at will. A living
will can give great peace of mind to your family and you. It is a gift
to your family to remove heavy decisions from them at a most difficult time.