A Living Will Isn't About the Family China
Many people may misunderstand the purpose of a Living Will, also known as an Advance Directive. If your response when asked about Living Wills is: "We have that under control. My sister gets the family china and I get mom's earrings." that is not the type of "Will" we're talking about.
In the event of an accident, injury or illness, a Living Will can help speak for you when you cannot speak for yourself. It is a written legal document specifying your wishes regarding your medical treatment and end-of-life care in the event you cannot speak for yourself. No matter what your age, every adult should have a Living Will.
Have A Conversation
Advance care planning starts with talking with your loved ones, your healthcare providers, and even your friends about your beliefs, values, and ultimately your healthcare wishes. These are important steps to making your wishes known. These conversations will relieve loved ones and healthcare providers of the need to guess what you would want if you are ever facing a healthcare or medical crisis.
Decisions about end-of-life care are deeply personal and are based on your values and beliefs. Because it is impossible to foresee every type of circumstance or illness, it is essential to think in general about what is important to you. Conversations that focus on your wishes and beliefs will relieve loved ones and healthcare providers of the need to guess what you would want.
Advance care planning includes:
- Getting information on the types of life-sustaining treatments that are available.
- Deciding what types of treatmentyou would, or would not want should you be diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.
- Sharing your personal values with your loved ones.
- Completing advance directives to put into writing what types of treatment you would or would not want should you be unable to speak for yourself.
Designating someone you trust as your health care agent is an important step to take. Discuss your wishes with your family and choose the person who will ensure that your wishes are carried out even under difficult circumstances. Many find a peace of mind in knowing that their designated person will make decisions on their behalf and support their wishes.
If the unexpected occurs, you will want your desires to be known. This is a very stressful time for your loved ones and a Living Will can save them from the burden of making health care decisions when they may have different opinions, be unaware of your wishes, and are expected to make decisions when they are emotional and least able to cope.
It's About How You LIVE is a national community engagement campaign by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization that encourage individuals to make informed decisions about end-of-life care and services. The campaign encourages people to:
- Learn about options for end-of-life services and care.
- Implement plans to ensure wishes are honored.
- Voice decisions to family, friends and health care providers.
- Engage in personal or community efforts to improve end-of-life care
To access a Living Will Form for New Jersey residents click here. Please note that this information is not a substitute for legal advice. While CaringInfo updates their information periodically, changes in the underlying law can affect how the form will operate in the event you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself. If you have any questions about how the form will help ensure your wishes are carried out, or if your wishes do not seem to fit with the form, you may wish to talk to your health care provider or an attorney with experience in drafting advance directives.