Sometimes referred to as a “health care declaration,” a living will is a legal document that states the type of care your elderly parent or relative wishes to receive should they be in a situation where they are unable to make such decisions on their own. A living will is often paired with a power of attorney (specific to healthcare decisions). Some states combine a living will and a power of attorney into one document called an advance health care directive. If you provide home care for an aging parent, here’s how to go about creating a living will with him or her.
Get the Form
Most states have a template for a living will that can be obtained online. Another option is to schedule an appointment with an elder law attorney. However, it’s not necessary to work with an attorney to create a living will. Forms can also be obtained from:
• Physicians’ offices
• Senior centers
• The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
• Each state’s medical association
Decide What to Include
A living will can include any medical instructions pertaining to your loved one’s care. Primarily, a living will is going to state what types of care your loved one wants to receive and what types of care they do not wish to receive should they be in a critical care situation. A living will typically includes:
• Whether or not artificial means of life support can be administered (respirator, feeding tube)
• Whether or not intravenous food and water can be given
• What steps can be taken in the event of ceased or limited brain activity
• How far beyond basic lifesaving techniques medical staff can go (CPR, defibrillation)
Once you and your loved one complete a living will, it will need be signed and witnessed or notarized. It’s a good idea to make extra copies of the completed living will for other family members, your loved one’s primary care physician, and your loved one’s care facility or hourly or live-in caregiver (if applicable). Even if your loved one chooses not to receive life-prolonging treatments, they will still receive palliative care to reduce pain and discomfort as much as possible.
Learn more about senior planning from the experienced care experts at Sonoma Home Care Assistance. We’re a leading provider of live-in and hourly home care in Sonoma, and we also offer care for seniors with advanced conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Our devoted Care Managers are available at (707) 843.4368 24/7 to answer any questions you may have or discuss on-going care options for your elderly loved one.