Recent statistics show that the majority of Americans still do not have a living will. We have all had friends, family members or people that we know that were seriously ill or injured and suddenly unable to speak for themselves, a tragedy that is compounded by the lack of a living will or medical power of attorney. Tough decisions will have to be made regardless, and that duty will fall to the next of kin if nothing is in writing. Do you really want that? Or are you assuming that they would know what your wishes are. IÕd say better rethink that- they do not have a crystal ball.


None of us wants to think it will ever happen to us, thatÕs just human, but how comforting it is to know your wishes will be carried out. Having a living will in place also takes the burden off of family members that may be undecided what to do. What a nice thing to do for them, remember they are suffering right along with you.

A living will also clarifies your wishes to the medical team caring for you. No second-guessing.


There are essentially three levels that you can choose from when making a living will. The first level states that you do not want any extraordinary measures taken to prolong your life. The next level states that you would like to have some measures taken leaving some measures open for interpretation by family and physician. The third level states that you want every possible measure taken to keep you alive.


Most individuals choose the middle road. But should you choose to ask that nothing be done rest assured that if you entered a hospital as a viable but ill individual to undergo a major surgery, or suffered a serious injury they arenÕt going to stand by and simply allow you to succumb. If breathing tube following a major surgery is whatÕs necessary for a few days until your body can be restored to normal function thatÕs what they will do. Should you choose to ask that everything be done rest assured that they will do that as well. Only after every measure has been exhausted will they stop.


Each and every individual should take the time to think out what they want to have done and make a living will. You protect your loved ones from making decisions that may be based on their own inability to face loss or making the wrong decision because they simply donÕt know what the right one is.  And, you protect yourself from the likes of feeding tubes, intubation tubes and a long life in an extended care facility with little or no quality of life and certainly no dignity. 


Your family physician and both local hospitals have livings wills available. Once you have made your decision and signed it be sure that your family physician has a copy and your loved one in charge understands your feelings and has access to a copy. Till next time, Rebecca