Living Will

A living will provides direction to healthcare providers and caregivers related to the types of treatment an individual desires, usually related to life-sustaining or life-prolonging treatment. A living will can forbid the use of medical treatments or to express wishes about foregoing food and water. A living will can also direct healthcare providers and caregivers whether the individual with the living will wishes to be sustained or have his life prolonged by the use of feeding tubs or other medical devices. A living will only becomes operative when the individual becomes incapacitated and unable to give informed consent to treatment. An example of a statement that may be found in a living will is the following: “If I suffer an incurable, irreversible illness, disease, or condition and my attending physician determines that my condition is terminal, I direct that life-sustaining measures that would serve only to prolong my dying be withheld or discontinued.” More specific living wills may include information regarding an individual's desire for such services such as analgesia (pain relief), antibiotics, hydration, feeding, and the use of ventilators or cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

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