What is the difference between a Designation of Health Care Surrogate and a Living Will?
A Designation of Health Care Surrogate is a document that allows you to name an agent to make medical treatment decisions for you in accordance with your wishes if you are not able to do so yourself.
A Living Will is a document that allows you to address what kind of medical treatment you would like to receive if you ever face a terminal or irreversible medical condition. It is often referred to as the document where you tell the doctors to “pull the plug.” Most people request that all treatments other than those needed to keep them comfortable be discontinued or withheld so they can be allowed to die as gently as possible.
The main difference between the two documents is that the Living Will is where you actually express your own specific preferences as to the use of life-sustaining treatment, and the Designation of Health Care Surrogate is where you name one or more persons to make most medical decisions for you.
It is not uncommon to combine a Living Will and a Designation of Health Care Surrogate into a single form. Preparing the two documents as separate forms or as a single form are both valid ways to address the medical issues.
Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today with questions. 386.256.4882
The older population- persons 65 years or older- numbered 42.6 million according to the latest Census Bureau statistics. In addition, according to the same National Population Projections, by the year 2033, the population 65 and older will outnumber people younger than 18 in the U.S. Our nation is rapidly aging.
Improved healthcare and decreased fertility rates have generated these rising numbers of the older population. These numbers represent a success story for increased longevity, but it also presents many challenges for the younger folks who are left to care for the aged.
Adult children, age 50 and over, taking care of their aging parents has tripled since 1994, according to AARP. Caring for elder parents presents difficult challenges, especially when a crisis hits, such as a widowed mother or father who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or when a parent falls and is never able to fully recover their independence. The adult child, often still working full-time, or even caring for their own young children, may become the only person to step in and manage the care.
Ideally, before the parent becomes ill, the family has already had “The Talk”. This is where the adult children have discussed with their elders how they would like their senior years handled. Unfortunately, this rarely happens, because we human beings aren’t really wired to think too much about aging and death. It is also a very emotionally difficult talk; sometimes it’s not the elder who resists, but the child who cannot bear to think about losing a parent. In this case, I recommend that my elder clients put EVERYTHING in writing, not only their estate plans, but directions concerning personal health care decisions, and desires regarding aging in-home or in a residential facility. And don’t leave out the MONEY TALK. Senior care is expensive. Children should have an understanding of what type of care you can afford.
The Law Office of Debra G. Simms offers Elder Law services to help families prepare to care for their loved ones. Call us today at (386) 256-4882.