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					                                     ELDER LAW REPORT
                                          By Laurie L. Folk, Attorney at Law


       It could happen at any time. A sudden car                     of comfort measures are administration of pain
   accident.     A serious slip and fall.        An                  medication, oxygen therapy, or ice for dry lips.
   unexpected illness. Any of these occurrences                          If disaster strikes and you are currently
   can happen without warning.          Any could                    unable to communicate your health care
   immediately end your life, or worse yet . . . any                 decisions, you will already have communicated
   can leave you either temporarily or permanently                   your wishes to your health care providers
   unable to make your own health care decisions.                    through the living will - thereby removing a
       In the wake of Florida’s Terri Schiavo case,                  tremendous burden from your family.
   we have all learned that disaster can strike
   without warning. More importantly, we have                        Directions for your Agent
   learned that it is critically important to make                       A health care proxy, also a legal document
   your health care wishes known at a time when                      drafted at a time when you are competent,
   you are competent to make those decisions.                        similarly expresses your wishes in advance.
   Proper advance planning gives you the                             However it is distinctively different because the
   opportunity to ensure that your health care                       health care proxy (1) allows you to nominate a
   wishes are followed, and relieve the burden                       person, or persons, of your choice to make
   from your family if they are faced with making                    health care decisions for you while you cannot,
   those health care decisions for you.                              and (2) does not require that you be terminally
                                                                     ill or suffering from an irreversible coma for
                                                                     your wishes to be carried out.
                                                                         A carefully drafted health care proxy gives
           It could happen at any time . . .                         you the power to set your agent’s guidelines by
                                                                     making particular treatment decisions in
                                                                     advance. Once you have elected your surrogate
       Due to the Schiavo case, much attention has                   decision maker, make sure you communicate
   been drawn to the subject of living wills. While                  your healthcare wishes to your agent so he or
   a living will serves an important purpose, it may                 she will know exactly what you would desire.
   not be enough because it is sometimes subject
   to interpretation. Doctors and attorneys often                    Checklist
   agree that creating a health care proxy, in
   addition to a living will, creates a stronger                      Determine whether you desire a living will
   advance directive.                                                 Decide what specifics you want to address
                                                                      Decide if you want comfort measures
   Directions for your Physician
       A living will is a legal document, drafted at                  Determine whether you desire a health care
   a time when you are competent, that declares                        proxy so someone can make your medical
   your wish that artificial life support be withheld                  decisions for you if you cannot
   if you are permanently unconscious or
                                                                      Choose an agent(s) and name them in your
   terminally ill and unable to make informed
                                                                       health care proxy
   decisions.
       A living will may be customized to address                     Be specific about your agent’s decision
   your particular feelings about cardiac                              making powers
   resuscitation, mechanical respiration, artificial                  Have an attorney prepare the living will and
   nutrition, and artificial hydration. In addition,                   health care proxy
   you may state your desire for comfort measures
   which will not prolong your life but will make                     Distribute copies to your physician and
   the end of life easier for you. Some examples                       health care agent(s)

   Article submitted by Laurie L. Folk of Folk Law Group, PLLC. Folk Law Group, PLLC is Monroe’s first firm dedicated
   solely to the practice of Elder Law. If you have any questions concerning this article, or any other issue, please feel free
   to contact us at (318) 398-1919.




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posted:11/24/2008
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