A 2017 study published in Health Affairs, a leading journal of health policy and research, indicates that only 37 percent of adults had completed an advanced health directive, with the most common form being a Living Will. A Living Will expresses your health care wishes in written form if you are unable to do so.
People over 65 were much more likely to have created a Living Will (46%) versus younger people (32%). Interestingly, the difference between people who filled out Living Wills when they were sick versus when they were healthy was modest – 38 percent versus 33 percent.
The primary reasons people have not taken the time to complete this critical document include:
- They never gave the issue much thought
- They don’t know much about the subject
- They don’t want to think about death
There has been an increased drive to get people from 18 to 80 to write Living Wills and update them as their lives and health change. It just makes end-of-life decisions easier for you, your family and your medical team. As a senior it is especially important that you complete this task.
“Advance care planning takes place over a lifetime. It changes as one’s goals and priorities in life change through different stages of life and health conditions,” according to recent guidelines on Living Wills released by the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging.
Your Living Will only becomes relevant in the circumstance in which you enter a persistent vegetative state or irreversible coma – and can no longer communicate your wishes.
Completing a Living Will also spares your family the anguish of making a life-support decision without your input. This document ensures your doctor understands your end-of-life wishes and sees that they are respected when the time to act arrives.
Anyone over the age of 18 may, and should, create a Living Will. It is better to do so before you enter a state of declining health. By taking a proactive approach, you can designate someone that you trust to make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated and are unable to do so.
Your Living Will reflects your choices for end of life decisions so create that now when you are of sound mind and body!