Wills and Trusts:

Content of Your Health Care Declaration

Your living will can explain what medical care you want and do not want if you become unable to speak for yourself. In many states, health care declarations ask whether you want to receive life-prolonging treatments, such as diagnostic tests, surgery, respirator use, blood transfusions, resuscitation and dialysis. You can also indicate in your living will if you want to be withheld from feeding tubes and IV tubes containing nutrients and fluids. Permanently unconscious patients can live for years with artificial feeding methods without becoming conscious. If the patient does not receive water and food, they will die shortly from dehydration. When you write out your health care documents, you can decide whether you with to receive artificial feeding methods.

If you choose to die naturally, you can still receive palliative, or comfort, care. This form of care allows a patient to remain comfortable and pain-free until death. It can be administered in a hospital, hospice or at home.

Some people who don’t want life-prolonging treatment when nearing death can also create a do not resuscitate order (DNR). If a medical emergency should happen, this DNR order alerts medical personnel that you do not wish to receive CPR.