What is a Living Will?
It is important for people to plan their future healthcare, especially at a time when they may no longer be able to make decisions or communicate these decisons. The “Living Will” will provide people the opportunity to think about, talk about and write down their wishes, preferences, priorities and refusals. They can make their own decisions on how they would like to be cared for and what they prefer to have and have not towards the end of their life. They may find it helpful to talk to their family and friends about their future care. Although families and loved ones may become emotional or disagree with their decisions, talking about these things openly can often be very helpful for the future. It will help all concerned to understand what is important for the person making the decision and to know the views, wishes and preferences of the person about the array of treatment options offered by the health care professionals at end of life. It will help them to be clear about the decisions they make. The “Living Will” is a written record of person’s wishes that will help the nominated person(s) or your family to carry out person’s wishes at the appropriate time without any guilt or angst.
Preferred priorities can be stated. This means those things they wish or prefer to have towards the end of life. It involves aspects like their preferred place of care and death (home or hospital), nature of treatment they would like to receive, information about their health and illness they would like to know and the supports they would like to access at end of life.
It is preferable to be clear about binding refusals. This means those components of medical care they wish or prefer not to have towards their end of life. It involves avoidance of IV fluids, antibiotics, blood products, hospitalisation, intensive care admission, oxygen, dialysis, feeding tubes, artificial nutrition etc. It also involves confirming a preference of not to have invasive medical procedures aimed at resuscitation like chest compressions, mechanical ventilation, drugs to increase blood pressure, invasive tubes, artificial machines aimed at keeping a person alive at the end of their life. Although these are termed binding refusals, in certain situations the Surrogate (the person who has been given Health Care Power of Attorney) can override them based on medical advice, if it is thought that the situation may significantly improve with a short period of the above treatments.
Get the format of ADVANCE MEDICAL DIRECTIVE (LIVING WILL) AND HEALTH CARE POWER-OF-ATTORNEY AUTHORISATION below.
An online public lecture on Living Will was organised by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and Forum for Indian Neurology Education on 9th May, 2020 on ‘Living Will: What Every Indian Senior Citizen Should Know‘.
Dr. Roop Gurshani was the speaker. The lecture is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWQEhJgk5YQ