If something sudden were to happen to you and you required medical treatment you were unable to consent to, would your loved ones know what to do? If your answer is no, you may want to devote some attention to creating a living will. 

What is a living will, and what might you be able to accomplish through drafting one? A living will is a type of health care directive that allows you to dictate your wishes in the event that you become incapacitated. It also gives your loved ones or doctors guidelines to follow with regard to what treatment you want in this scenario. What sorts of determinations might you want to make in your living will? 

Decisions about resuscitation

A “do not resuscitate” order means that you do not want doctors to use artificial means to keep you alive if you are unable to live on your own. If your breathing stops or your heart stops beating, they may use machines to keep you going unless you specify otherwise. 

Decisions about organ donation

Just as you have the option of listing yourself as an organ donor on your drivers’ license, you also have the option of donating your organs or other body tissues by specifying that you wish to do so in your living will. 

Decisions about eating and drinking

You may also use your living will to dictate whether you want physicians to feed you or administer liquids if you are unable to do so yourself. You have the option of saying, for example, whether you want them to feed you via a tube or administer liquids via an IV to keep you alive.