Advance Directives: A Matter of Life and Death. Describes importance of a living will.

Essay by hotlittlenumberCollege, UndergraduateA+, December 2003

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Advance Directives:

A Matter of Life and Death

Imagine a loved one......better yet, imagine yourself lying in a hospital bed. You are unable to move or to show any signs of life. Your existence is controlled by a respirator, a feeding tube, and a I.V. Your cognizant functions are gone. For all intents and purposes, you are dead. Your body is no longer able to sustain life, its entire purpose is now replaced by machines. You are being kept alive artificially. Should you be kept alive by these means or should you be allowed to die a natural death? Unfortunately, if you are in this situation, you are unable to relay your wishes to your doctor. Your voice has been replaced by the electrical beeping of your heart monitor. Who will decide if you live artificially or die naturally? Who gets to play God on your behalf? Will it be your family, your doctor, the government? Most people never consider the possible outcomes should this situation ever arise.

They don't think about it, but they should. Unless a person has an advance directive, many health care providers and institutions will make critical decisions that the person may not have agreed with. In other cases, a court may appoint a guardian who is unfamiliar with the person's values and wishes.

An advance directive is an important document to have at any stage of your life. It is a legal document that is drafted by your lawyer to express your wishes for end of life care when you are unable to make those decisions yourself. Without an advance directive in place, some of the hardest and most important decisions of your life may be left entirely in the hands of medical professionals and your family. Not only do you risk having a...