Advance Directive (Living Will)

Most people do not like to think or talk about “living wills.” We know what they are but think we will never need to have one. We never expect that a life-threatening illness will strike us or our family. But it happens, and if it does a living will, or Advance Directive, will let you decide for yourself whether you want life-sustaining medical treatment.

Maryland has enacted the Health Care Decisions Act. It says you can direct your medical treatment through an Advance Directive. You can say, for example, whether you want a feeding tube for water and nutrition, or a machine to help you breath. You can say you do or do not want these things. It’s up to you, and the person you name to carry out your wishes must follow your instructions.

In addition to expressing your wishes concerning end-of-life issues, your Advance Directive can name a person to make other medical decisions for you, consult with your doctors and other facilities, authorize admission and discharge from medical facilities, and even ride in an ambulance with you. Having an Advance Directive can give you comfort knowing that someone you trust will be there when you need him or her to be by your side.

If you do not have an Advance Directive, then these decisions will still be made but they will be made by someone you have not selected and may not even want.  By having an Advance Directive you can avoid that and make sure that you receive the treatment and care that you want and that it treatment reflects your own morals, religious views, and values. This allows you to remain in control after the onset of a medical emergency.