At the end of April, Mary K. Wimsett of the Miller Elder Law Firm published an article in the Opinion section of The Gainesville Sun.
The article cites the importance of every adult having a Designation of Health Care Surrogate and a Living Will. Even adults who are young and healthy may have an accident or need emergency medical attention.
A Designation of Health Care Surrogate only applies when you cannot make decisions for yourself — such as brain damage or unconsciousness. The Surrogate provides informed consent and makes only health care decisions for the maker, which he or she believes the maker would have made under the circumstances if the maker were capable of making such decisions. If there is no indication of what the maker would have chosen, the Surrogate may consider the maker’s best interest in deciding on a course of treatment.
A Living Will is a witnessed written document that allows a person to state ahead of time whether the person wants certain life prolonging procedures to be withheld or withdrawn in the event that the person is unable to make their own healthcare decisions. A Living Will addresses three separate conditions:
- A terminal condition where you have a terminal illness and your prognosis is three-to-six months.
- An end-stage condition where you know that your life is nearing the end due to multiple health problems.
- A persistent vegetative state where there is no brain activity.
Without a Living Will, your loved ones may have difficulty withdrawing life support or artificial hydration and nutrition.
Both of these documents should be in writing and laid out with specific instructions. You can save your loved ones from having to make difficult decisions on your behalf by having both a Designation of Health Care Surrogate and a Living Will.