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IMPORTANT NOTE: Information in this e-book is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have or suspect that you have any illness, you must consult with a physician or professional healthcare provider! Call 911 and get to the nearest emergency room if you have serious or worsening symptoms.

Your Life, Your Choices: Planning for Future Medical Decisions - How to Prepare a Personalized Living Will

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"What should we do for Dad?"

"We got the kind of call we'd feared. Dad had been in declining health for months. Then he fell asleep at the wheel and was in a bad car accident. Three weeks later he was still in a coma. A breathing machine pumped air into his lungs because he could not breathe on his own. The doctors thought his chances of coming out of the coma were slim. They talked with Mom and me about turning off the breathing machine and allowing Dad to die naturally. I felt terrible. I didn't think Dad would want to be kept alive like this. But I knew Mom would feel guilty for the rest of her life if we told the doctors to "pull the plug" while there was still even the slightest hope. We weren’t sure what we should do because Dad never told us what he would have wanted. I really wish we'd talked about this before."

Your Life, Your Choices

There’s only one person who is truly qualified to tell health care providers how you feel about different kinds of health care issues—and that’s you. But, what if you get sick, or injured so severely that you can’t communicate with your doctors or family members? Have you thought about what kinds of medical care you would want? Do your loved ones and health care providers know your wishes?

Many people assume that close family members automatically know what they want. But studies have shown that spouses guess wrong over half the time about what kinds of treatment their husbands or wives would want.

You can help assure that your wishes will direct future health care decisions through the process of advance care planning.

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