Living Wills: Your Future on Paper

Essay by cdonohueUniversity, Bachelor'sA, November 2014

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Your Future on Paper

The inability to start a conversation about advanced directives in the United States is leaving countless amounts of people without any control over their own life during medical emergencies. When everything goes black and your voice can no longer be heard, whom do you want in charge of your fate? The answer is simple: you. The only way this is possible is if you have an advanced directive to guide medical professionals and family in the proper direction to meet your wishes. The importance of being educated on advanced directives is brought to life with the case of Terri Schiavo, as superfluous procedures, the deterioration of a family, and ongoing legal woes arise without the guidance of a living will. In this paper I argue that becoming educated about advanced directives will not only protect a patient's wishes in time of need, but also provide guidance and clarity for family and medial professionals.

To begin, in order to make an educated decision on advanced directives one must explore the true meaning of the document. An advanced directive is a legal document that informs others about a patient's wishes regarding end of life treatment and during medical emergencies. This term is interchangeable with the more recognized term "living will" (Durbin 9). There are different types of advanced directives that should be addressed: living wills, durable power of attorney, and do not resuscitate orders. All of these options can be included in an advanced directive and each provides different information. A living will gives specific instructions about a patient's wishes for medical care to sustain life, but does not name someone to make decisions for them. Giving someone you trust durable power of attorney allows him or her to make...