Many people are now living well into their senior years. Have you ever thought how you would feel if your life was being prolonged by medical intervention, but as a result the quality of your life was poor? There may be no chance of recovery and yet you are being kept alive purely by medical science. What if you are badly injured in a car accident, suffer a stroke or dementia?
A Living Will is a very personal and individual statement which needs careful thought and consideration.
There are two types of Living Will:
- an Advance Decision is a legally binding decision made by you to refuse treatment
- an Advance Statement is a general statement of your wishes and views.
Why prepare an Advance Decision?
An adult with mental capacity can refuse treatment for any reason, even if it might lead to their death. However, no one is able to insist on a particular medical treatment being given if it conflicts with what the doctors providing the treatment consider is in their best interest. This is why an Advance Decision can only be a refusal of treatment.
An Advance Decision enables you to indicate exactly what treatment you wish to refuse (including life sustaining treatment), and in what circumstances.
Why prepare an Advance Statement?
An Advance Statement allows you to state your preferences and indicate what treatment or care you would like to receive if, in the future, you are unable to communicate your wishes for yourself. It can reflect your religious or other beliefs, can include non medical preferences, express who you would like to be consulted and any aspects of life that you particularly value. It is not legally binding, but must be considered by those providing your care and treatment when determining what is in your best interests.
What happens if I do not make a Living Will?
If you do not make a Living Will, it will be left to the healthcare professionals providing your care and treatment to decide what is in your best interests; this may not be the same as what you would have decided for yourself.