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We all know the importance of creating a will to make sure our wishes are carried out after we pass away, but what happens if you’re still alive but unable to make the important medical decisions for yourself?

In this situation, having an Advanced Health Care Directive (or Living Will) becomes important as it sets out your wishes about medical treatment in the event that you are unable to make decisions.

This week is National Palliative Care Week (Sunday May 24 to Saturday May 30), and there’s never been a better time to talk about your needs if you are not able to speak for yourself.

The theme of Palliative Care Week in 2015 is Dying to Talk: Talking about dying won’t kill you. I urge you to take this opportunity to speak with your loved ones and consider preparing a living will.

Commonly a living will:

  • sets out the limitations on treatment you wish to have, although it may indicate that you wish to have full measures to prolong life
  • stipulates medical treatment preferences, including those influenced by your religious or other values and beliefs
  • identifies circumstances unacceptable to you arising from applying life-sustaining treatment such as artificial respiration
  • identifies how far treatment should go when your condition is ‘terminal’, ‘incurable’ or ‘irreversible’ (depends on terminology used in specific forms)
  • nominates a ‘person responsible’ who consults with doctors concerning your wishes when you aren’t able to
  • includes other non-medical aspects of care that are important to you during your care.

A living will is equally as important as a traditional will and ensures your wishes will be carried out at every stage of your life, giving you peace of mind now and in the future.

For more information about National Palliative Care Week (Sunday May 24 to Saturday May 30, 2015), visit http://www.palliativecare.org.au.

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