Terminal illness, permanent disability, mental incapacitation — these are things we often hear about but never think would happen to us. But if you think you are impervious to such health problems, think again!
You can never tell what will happen to you a few years from now. You may be in perfect health today, but what about tomorrow and the next days? You could figure in an accident one day or find yourself in a coma because of an illness. Such events could take away your ability to communicate, so you may be forced to rely on other people to make decisions regarding the kind of health care you should receive.
You would have to put your life completely in another person’s hands. If you had created a living will before your accident or illness, however, you will still have some control over the kind of health care you would get even if you are unconscious or unable to communicate.
Living wills are valid in two kinds of situations: terminal illness and permanent disability. You may write a living will at any time in your life but it will be executed only when either of these events occur.
A person who becomes so sick that death is imminent is said to be terminally ill. There are debates all over the world regarding the use of life support in such situations. Should it be used at all and if so, until when?
If you become terminally ill and have not prepared a living will, your family and physician may have a hard time making these decisions. They may have endless disagreements and may even feel guilty of their decision because they don’t know what you would have preferred.
If you have a living will that addresses terminal illness, however, you can let them know what your stand is regarding life support. You can specifically state if you are fine with the idea of artificial ventilation or if you prefer to go when nature says so.
Living wills are also important in case of permanent disability. If you become completely incapacitated or if you lose your powers of speech and communication, you can still let your doctor and family know how you wish to be cared for while you are sick. When creating a living will for permanent disability, however, make sure you include specific details so as to avoid any misunderstanding of your will.
If you have a living will, it will be so much easier for your family to make health care decision on your behalf should you become terminally ill or disabled.