A living will, known as a declaration in Illinois, is a document everyone should have. Whether a terminal illness is in the picture, of simply proactively expecting the unexpected, a living will makes sure an individual’s healthcare and final wishes are crystal clear. For family and loved ones, a living will provides easy to follow instructions that can help them make difficult decisions during a highly emotional time. A living will should also be paired with a durable power of attorney appointing a guardian to be responsible for carrying out these wishes.
A living will should include the following information:
- CPR / Resuscitation – Clearly identify whether medical personnel should attempt resuscitation, and what resuscitative measures they should/should not perform. It is also possible to request that they “do not resuscitate” when the body stops breathing and the heart stops pumping.
- Feeding / Hydration – Make sure the living will covers whether medical personnel should attempt to feed/hydrate via intubation and other measures.
- Dialysis – Include information notifying physicians whether they should perform dialysis should the kidneys cease functioning. An individual should also set a timeline for how long this treatment should be continued.
- Palliative Care – Include details about what types of pain management physicians and healthcare professionals should be allowed to administer. Be sure to discuss what medicines they can use, and ones which they should not, including antibiotics, etc. that an individual may be allergic to.
- Final Care – This information should cover where an individual wishes to die, whether it be at home, or within a healthcare facility.
- Specific Condition Care – If cancer, Alzheimer’s, or another medical condition are present, be sure to include condition specific treatment requests. These requests should cover the administration of specific medication and treatment options for that condition.
- Organ/Tissue Donation – Individuals wishing to donate organs or tissue for transplants should spell this out very clearly. Most donations must be collected shortly after death in order for them to be viable for transplant purposes, so it is imperative that this information is spelled out very clearly.
A living will should also include information about the duration treatments and palliative care measures should be performed. Should an individual fall into a coma, this information can be used to determine how long physicians should continue life preserving treatment. An Illinois living will lawyer can help include this within the document so that an individual’s final wishes are easy to follow.