9 End-of-Life Decisions That You Decide Your Wishes About

9 End-of-Life Decisions That You Decide Your Wishes About

A living will is a chance to list your end-of-life preferences and decisions. Without one, someone else will have the burden of making choices for you in the event of an emergency or accident. They might not pick the things you want or are best for you. Making end-of-life decisions in advance can spare your loved ones the burden of what is likely to be a trying time for them. Start with the following nine.

1. Estate Planning

Most of your end-of-life planning is making your choices and then filing the most important papers. Proper estate planning involves accounting for all your property and financial assets, deciding who will inherit them, and disbursing them accordingly. When you do this effectively, your estate can avoid probate, and your survivors can execute your will quickly and easily during mourning.

2. Power of Attorney

Thorough planning can account for many different end-of-life scenarios, but you might wind up in circumstances where you are incapacitated but not dead. It can be helpful to have someone who can make legal decisions for you if you are unconscious or unable to make your own coherent choices. This individual might wind up making choices that dictate your final moments in the world.

3. Health Care Agent

In addition to a power of attorney to designate someone who makes legal choices for you, you can also designate a healthcare agent who can make medical and end-of-life care decisions for you. You can choose a relative, a friend, or someone from your faith group. Make sure you ask someone you trust who is willing to serve that role and is clear about your wishes.

4. Pain and Suffering

If faced with limited time left due to a declining medical condition, what level of comfort do you want? Medications can alleviate pain, and palliative or hospice care can minimize or manage the final hours and days of your life.

5. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

Should doctors apply CPR if your breathing or heart stops? Drugs, defibrillation, and forcefully pushing your lungs or chest might work if you’re in good health, but the odds are lower if you’re sick. Too much force can injure you. A do-not-resuscitate order or DNR instruction must be part of your medical records.

6. Breathing Machine

Breathing machines, known as ventilators, maintain respiration when you cannot breathe independently. If you’re at the end of life, however, a ventilator might prolong dying without healing or curing you.

7. Feeding Tube

This device can give your body nutrients if you can’t drink or eat by yourself and save your life. However, it might cause more problems than it solves in end-of-life situations. Removing or applying a feeding tube is a frequent point of disagreement between doctors and families, but making your wishes known in advance can spare them this debate.

8. Organ Donation

Depending on how you pass away, doctors might be able to recover your body quickly enough to extract healthy organs that living patients can use to extend their lifespan or improve their quality of daily living. You can’t control those circumstances, but it is up to you whether or not you want to be an organ donor in the first place. This is widely considered an act of generosity that helps others, but your right to choose what happens with your body must also be legally respected.

9. Cremation or Burial

The final decision you have to make in end-of-life planning is what should be done with your remains, and your decision comes down to cremation vs burial. Burial is a traditional custom going back thousands of years, but it can cost more money in many cases. The process of cremation is more affordable and carries far less environmental impact.

You Can Make Choices

It’s rare for someone to know how their last days will go, but proper planning can prepare for many contingencies. Doing end-of-life planning, documenting your wishes, and communicating these with others is your chance to ensure your ideals and decisions are honored when you cannot do so yourself.