"A New Look at Living Wills" (WSJ, 6/8/12)
There's a good article in today's Wall Street Journal on living wills. Here are key excerpts:
"An estimated 25% to 30% of Americans have filled out living wills, documents that spell out wishes for medical treatment. But ethicists say the typically simplistic documents aren't the solution many hoped they would be. Life-prolonging medical technology has far outstripped doctors' ability to predict outcomes. The hardest choices center on when quality of life will be so diminished that death is preferable. As such, some health organizations are trying to improve living wills, allowing for more flexibility and nuance. Some ethicists, meanwhile, are de-emphasizing living wills altogether and focusing on appointing a trusted family member or friend as your health-care agent. ... The problem with living wills is that most people can't articulate what they want... And even if they can, family members often don't properly interpret those wishes."
I think this reinforces the idea that we need to choose carefully a family member or friend who will be our health-care agent, and we need to have a lengthy discussion with that person in advance about what "quality of life" means to us.
The article mentions two sources of living will documents:
* Five Wishes: fivewishes.org; $5; can be completed online
* Lifecare Directives: lifecaredirectives.com/products.html#ead; cost is $8
Another resource mentioned in the article is the American Bar Association's "Consumer's Tool Kit for Health Care Advance Planning," described as a tool for getting the conversation started. The tool kit is available at no charge online:http://www.americanbar.org/groups/law_a ... nning.html
Robinhttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 06562.html
Wall Street Journal
June 8, 2012, 9:26 a.m. ET
A New Look at Living Wills
These critical documents about your preferences for end-of-life care don't always work as planned. More flexibility might be the answer.
By Laura Johannes