Here are some pointers to help people ensure their final days are carried out as they wish.
- Think about how you want to live out your final days. Communicate your desires with your health-care power of attorney, family, friends, loved ones and physicians.
- Communicate your end-of-life desires orally and in written form. A living will is one of the most common ways to do this. Avoid generic language and run the language by your physician to make sure your wishes are understood from a medical viewpoint.
- Avoid common mistakes. Make sure you complete an advance directive that follows your state's requirements. (While advance directives are legally binding throughout the United States, state laws differ, for instance, on what needs to be in them or who needs to witness them. Don't forget to sign and date your directive and place it in your medical record.
- Expect resistance from medical personnel. For a myriad of reasons that include moral or religious beliefs of care providers, confusion or family strife, doctors and other providers may try to bypass written directives.
These are two organizations that help the dying and their families meet end-of-life goals.