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Some Tips for End-Of-Life Planning

November 25, 2004

Some tips for end-of-life planning:

_Talk to your doctor about your wishes and values concerning end-of-life care. What would make life not worth living for you? Ask your doctor to note your views on your chart.

_Give a family member or trusted friend the legal authority to make medical decisions for you if you are unable. Talk to that person about your values and wishes.

_Consider a living will. If you do, be as specific as possible. You might include information about whether you want life-sustaining treatment; types of treatment you would or would not want and under what conditions; preferences about artificial nutrition and hydration; what if any pain control medication you want and under what circumstances; and whether you want to be an organ donor.

_Consider using a standardized living will that addresses some of the basic questions such as the popular ``Five Wishes″ document produced by the nonprofit Aging with Dignity. (Available for $5 each.)

_Update your living will if you are diagnosed with a serious or terminal disease to address the medical situations that are most common to people with your condition. Talk with your doctor about what to expect.

_Talk to family members about your general wishes to minimize disputes if decisions must be made for you.

_Keep your living will in an accessible, easy-to-find spot. Tell your family where to find the document. Give copies to your doctor, family members likely to be involved in decision-making, hospitals that might treat you and your lawyer.

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On the Net:

Five Wishes: http://www.agingwithdignity.org

American Bar Association guide: http://www.abanet.org/publiced/practical/directive_livingwill.html

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