A living will, also known as a health care directive or an advance directive, is a legal document that specifies your end-of-life medical care should you be incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes. This document can be invaluable to medical professionals and family members who do not have to guess about the type of treatment you prefer if you’re critically ill. Because it’s possible for family members to have differing opinions about how to manage end-of-life circumstances for a loved one, a living will eliminates any questions or issues.
When a Living Will Is Helpful
Your living will gives specific directions about how you want your medical care handled in the event that you can’t speak for yourself. Here is a brief look at some circumstances where a living will is helpful:
If you are seriously sick.
Some illnesses can make it impossible for people to communicate. When you are critically ill, a living will outlines your wishes about treatment choices and how you want your situation handled. This may include instructions for reducing pain.
If you are injured in an accident.
Accidents happen without warning, and keeping an updated living will can help ease the stress your family may feel over making health care decisions. For example, you can provide direction in a living about your desire to be placed on life support. This means you choose to make use of medical equipment and techniques that could sustain life—such as a ventilator or heart-lung machine.
If you are suddenly incapacitated.
Other medical events such as a stroke, heart attack, or an aneurysm can incapacitate you unexpectedly. A living will is a useful tool to provide health care professionals with specific information about your desired treatment.
Creating a Living Will in Rhode Island
A living will is legally binding and ensures that your wishes are carried out. Without a living will, health care choices might be made without you by a doctor, a family member, or even judges. In Rhode Island, you should have both a living will and a document that specifies your durable power of attorney. This document names the person you want to officially choose or refuse treatments for you. Your durable power of attorney uses your living will to assist him in making those decisions.
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