We plan for many important events in life. We plan for retirement, a wedding, vacations, and for a child’s education. Sadly, the health choices that are made at the end of life are seldom planned and many times they are made for us. Decisions are put off and desires are not expressed because it is difficult to contemplate or discuss death.
There are many things to plan for at the end of life. Transfer of property and the well being of a spouse or child are all issues to be considered and planned for. However, the topic discussed here involves end of life health care issues, the importance of living wills, and advance directives. The principle way to ensure that your desires are fulfilled if you are no longer able to communicate your wishes is through a Living Will.
Idaho law provides for individuals to ensure that their wishes about their healthcare are carried out in the event they become incapacitated and are not able to speak for themselves. Generally, there are two kinds of Advance Directives. The first is called a Living Will, and the second is called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. During the 2005 Idaho Legislative session, a modification was made to the Natural Death and Medical Consent Act. Consequently, in Idaho, it is now possible to complete one (1) form for both a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare.
A Living Will sets forth your instructions for dealing with life-sustaining medical procedures in the event you are unable to decide for yourself. A Living Will directs your family and medical staff on whether to continue, withhold, or withdraw life-sustaining systems, such as tube feeding for hydration (water) and nutrition (food), if you are incapable of expressing this yourself due to an incurable and terminal condition or persistent vegetative state.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to appoint a person to make all decisions regarding your health care, including choices regarding health care providers and medical treatment, if you are not able to make them yourself for any reason.
You should not execute an Advanced Directive without having first thought about end of life issues, considered your personal values, and discussed your end of life wishes with your family, physicians, attorney, and clergy.