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Living Wills - What Is It, Should I Make One And Are They Necessary?

Updated on April 10, 2012

Living Wills - They ARE Necessary, They Are Evil - No one wants to plan their disability!

No one really wants to think about what should happen to them if they get ill or have an accident. Many people don’t even have a will in the event of their death, yet alone think about their wishes should their lives turn and they are unable to mentally/physically function.

As you probably can see from my profile, I volunteer with the Red Cross. Essentially, I take cancer patients to Oncology for their radiotherapy treatment. During their time with me, I am their confidant, their support and the one they rely on in this time of need. Although, most patients get through treatment and go on to leading a fulfilling life, there are some cases that aren’t so lucky.

People with brain tumours can have a very slow recovery. Some people’s treatment may lead to regression. As a passive onlooker, I can’t highlight enough the importance of setting up a living will. Ultimately, no one knows what is around the corner. It’s, therefore, better to design this whilst we are still able to. Prevention is better than crisis intervention.

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Please Don't Leave It Until Tomorrow!

What Is A Living Will?

 living will is a way of communicating healthcare desires when people are unable to speak for themselves. It is a written guidance to caregivers as to how the patient, as an individual, would wish to be treated. This may forbid certain treatments and interventions. It may include certain life-style choses for which the patient enjoyed prior to the disability or illness.

In England and Wales, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 states that when a person lacks the mental capacity, the living will should be valid and applicable to the original wishes of the patient. Of course, there are differences within the legal systems of individual countries and you should seek more information here for what is applicable to you.

Taking this on-board, I thought what is important to me in my living will. This is what I came up with and I hope this is a good example for you.

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How To Make A Living Will - A Rough Guide Here...

My Living Will - My Necessary Evil! An Example!

I wish that everything possible should be done in order to maintain my life. However, a decent quality of life should be attained after the above intervention. If this is not possible, I would like to die with dignity, in my own home and with my family. I do not want to die alone. This should not, however, be at the expense of organ donation. If there is anything that can be harvested, I give my permission.

Choice, independence and dignity would have to be paramount issues involving myself, should I require nursing or residential care. I should only be admitted if I can no longer live within my own home. This will only be case if I am a danger to myself and others.

Listed below are my needs, although not in priority:

Medication to be limited as far as possible, and regularly reviewed. I would rather have hot chocolate to help me sleep, not medication.

Peace and quiet for two hours by myself. Please do not leave me for extended long periods.

Food prepared and offered looking prestable. Eaten in my own room at my pace. Please wait until I have finished each mouthful. Please don’t rush my pudding immediately afterwards – I need time to digest my first course.

I would like a working television and DVD in my room.

I like my personal music and would like the opportunity to listen to my mp3 player. Please may I have a lock on my door. I would like a key to my room and would like that on a chain around my neck.

I would like regular therapy – recognition and reality orientation.

Regular trips out – pub, the country and seaside, I like to be stimulated and enjoy fresh air.

Please find me an advocate.

A glass of cold beer with meals. I need three mugs of Nescafe coffee in the morning with two sugars. I would like a 1 litre bottle of ‘made up’ Ribena juice with me at all times. The type of bottle is typical to the volvic water bottles – those with nipples. This will help me to self administer at my leisure, thereby keeping me hydrated and independent.

I don’t like pigs knuckles and gammon. I love smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and a good stilton.

Legal representation to make my next of kin aware of any issues, such as letting my property rather than selling to purchase my care.

Haircut every six weeks. Hairwash twice a week.

Nails as necessary.

Teeth to be brushed twice daily.

Care by 1 carer upon dressing, toileting.

Doors to be closed whilst toileted.

A little lactulose (10ml) in morning if my bowels aren’t regular.

Crisps and chocolate for regular consumption. I like a treat.

Matching socks on my feet.

Books, newspapers to be offered daily.

Bed at 10pm. Up at 8am. Let me sleep in the dark, only 1 disturbance during the night to check my continence needs. Allow me 5 minutes to wake up before getting me up.

Talk to me, encourage me to communicate my needs. If I can make my own drinks, please allow me to do so, freely.

Maintain a room temperature of 15 – 18 degrees centigrade and allow my relatives to drop in whenever they wish.

Allow me privacy to express my sexual needs.

Offer me spiritual interactions with those qualified.

Ensure my hygiene is adhered to. Wash my hands before meals, baths three times a week and all over wash at other times.

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Living Wills Highlights the Importance of Empowerment

Using my living will example should help you think about how you would want to be treated should you be unable to speak for yourself. Living wills are not about death, they are about empowering you to live your life to the way that you would want. It is a written guide, or care plan, to empower you to a better life and a standard for which you have been accustomed to. I can not highlight how important this document is and would strongly suggest that you take a look and seriously consider purchasing the recommended products I have highlighted below. Please don't leave it for others to assume what is right for your care needs, give them a definitive instruction in the form of living wills!

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This work is covered under Creative Commons License

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    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Great Britain

      Wow Lisa! How brave you both were! It was certainly a good thing that you were empowered to do the right thing and all because he had the foresight of leaving a living will. What a wonderful example for the readers of this article! Thank you.

    • Lisas-thoughts101 profile image


      6 years ago from Northeast Texas

      My brother had congestive heart failure. He did not want to be on life support. Fortunately he had a living will and I was the executor. That was the hardest thing I have ever done but I am so grateful we knew his wishes and that I could honor them and him.


    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Thank you Pamela. Indeed, this is necessary to ensure a quality of life should we not be able to speak up for ourselves, as well as what you have highlighted in your important comment.

      I wish you well Pamela, and that it wont be necessary to use your living will - but, at least it is there, just in case!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      This is an important hub and more people need to have living wills. I was an RN for 22 years with a lot of critical care experience. I want to die with dignity as well, preferably at home with loved ones. I am not afraid to die but I am afraid of weeks on the ventilator when there is no hope of recovery. They can have my organs if they can use them. I'll have no use for them anymore. I never in my nursing career saw them let someone die in order to harvest organs when there was still hope for the patient. I hope that doesn't happen. Great hub.

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Great Britain

      Thank you my friend. It is so important to do this, despite the scary nature of potentially our own demise x

    • Chloe Comfort profile image

      Chloe Comfort 

      9 years ago from Long Island

      Another good hub. A great reminder to not put this off. Your example is very clear and concise. Well done.


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