Is there a fate worse than death?
This topic is unpleasant, but it is important, because it is not just for you, but also for the people who care about you. It is important for you to plan for this now, to avoid leaving others in a position where they must make difficult decisions for you.
"Resuscitation" refers to life-sustaining procedures that can save your life, but that may be inappropriate when there is little hope of quality of life. Many physicians have an Advance Directive that specifies refusal of life-sustaining procedures when there appears to be little hope of quality of life. They are familiar with instances where the outcome of resuscitation proved to be less than desirable.
Without an Advance Directive, you risk being kept alive in a coma or Persistent Vegetative State. You need an Advanced Directive prior to the circumstance that renders you unable to specify what you would want for yourself after to an accident or medical event which has rendered you unconscious or otherwise unable to make your wishes known. You need an Advance Directive which will both specify: 1) who you would want to speak for you, and 2) what would be your wishes if you are not able to speak for yourself.
Advance Directives and Durable Power of Attorney are a matter of state law. You need to find what is legal for your state.
Below is a sample Advance Directive for the state of Washington, copied from Compassion & Choices of Washington:
- Combines your Health Care Directive (Living Will) and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care into one document.
- Applies if you have a terminal or nonterminal medical condition.
- Contains no antichoice statements.
- Includes an Alzheimer’s and dementia provision.
- Uses very specific terminology regarding when you don’t want life-sustaining treatment and what other treatments you don’t want.
- Allows you to place limits on how long you would remain in a coma or persistent vegetative state.
- Offers an option of no life-sustaining treatment under any circumstances (for the very elderly, for instance).
- Includes a statement requesting maximum pain and comfort care, even if it might hasten your dying process.
- Remains in effect after death (for organ donation, disposition of remains).
- Includes a provision stating that if a guardian is appointed for you, that guardian should be the health care agent you named.
- Affirms a health care agent’s right to complete a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form on behalf of the maker.
- Allows consideration of every legal, ethical option.