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Tips to Inspire a Senior to Write a Living Will

by Viki Kind, End-of-Life Expert
May 07, 2014

Question: I would like to help my mom to have a living will or advanced directive but she is reluctant. How can I inspire her?

Answer: Only about 20% of the general population has an Advance Directive, Living Will and/or Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. That means that 80% of people will have people guessing what they would want during a medical emergency. When it comes to your health, do you really want people guessing what is the right thing to do for you?

Here is what I say to people to inspire them to complete their documents.

1.  Think about your worst relative. Would you want this person to be making your life and death decisions for you? If not, then complete your forms.

2.  Medicine can keep you alive for a really long time in a terrible condition. If this isn’t okay with you, then you better tell us what would be okay.

3.  When you write down your wishes, you are giving your loved ones the gift of knowing what to say when the doctor asks, “What would your grandmother want us to do?” You wouldn’t believe how many people come up to me and say, “10 years ago I made this decision for my grandmother. Did I do the right thing?” They are usually in tears when they ask because they have been living with this guilt and worry for 10 years. Is that the legacy you want to leave people with? If you want to leave your family with peace after you are gone, then complete your forms.

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Viki Kind is a clinical bioethicist, professional speaker, and hospice volunteer. Her book, The Caregiver’s Path to Compassionate Decision Making: Making Choices For Those Who Can't,” guides families and professionals through the difficult process of advocating for those who can no longer speak for themselves. She has recently launched a DVD that includes a template to create a quality-of-life statement.

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