Sam Bauman: Seniors should all have a living will; most don’t
Most Americans get the basics of living wills. We understand they are binding documents to specify our medical wishes if we can’t communicate because of illness or injury. We realize they address such questions as whether we want life-extending treatment while terminally ill or in a coma-inducing accident.
The term “living will” seems to be a contradiction in terms. Wills are what we write to divide our properties among relatives or others upon dying. But what’s a “living will”? It’s a question seniors should well understand.
Basically, it directs all involved in the writer’s care to follow some guidelines, such as prolonging life when the writer can no longer communicate. Often the living will limits the amount of care to be used to prolong life when incapacity results. Thousands of Americans who had no living will are existing in medical facilities because science could prolong their lives beyond what they would have wanted. That’s good for neither the patient or relatives.
Because this form of “will” was to be used while an individual was still alive (but no longer able to make decisions), it was dubbed the “living will.”
According to a recent poll, 42 percent of American adults have living wills, which is a vast improvement over the mere 17 percent in 1991. But that’s not good enough. Legal experts say all adults ought to have a living will, including such prominent advocates as Nathan Kottkamp, founder of National Health Care Decisions Day, and Paul Malley of Aging with Dignity.
Ask parents or loved ones if they have a living will. They will usually jump to it if they aren’t covered. There are legal requirements for living wills, so consult a friendly attorney, perhaps at the Carson City Senior Center. The fees will be minimal or free.
There’s a lot more involved in living wills. I’m no lawyer and am merely offering a little Internet research. Incidentally, I find that I have misplaced my old living will. Gotta get on that!
I had planned on making my 10th Burning Man event recently, but other things popped up. I’d made it to the last nine times, but for No. 10 I had to miss it Too bad because it was always great fun — great art, fun crowds and always the new/old Temple where Burners wrote messages to the world of the Temple’s wooden frame. The Temple always went up in smoke on the Sunday after the Man’s fiery demise.
Seniors have not been a large part of the audience celebrating alternate lifestyles in weird costumes (or no costumes) on weirder vehicles around the Black Rock Desert. Too bad, because this event can rejuvenate flagging spirits and even change viewpoints.
A population of 68,000 was expected this year and the playa was going to need cleaning up, but Burning Man staffers always cleaned up the desert.
I miss seeing those wonderful works of art scattered about the playa, most created just for Burning Man. I won’t miss those whiteouts that stranded me in whirling white dust out on the playa.
FRAGMENT OF THOUGHT
I’m often asked where I would most life to live if I had the funds, other than the USA. I always opted for la belle France.
And here’s a brief statistic that suggests why: There were 430 murders in France (population about 60 million) in 2012. In Chicago same period (population about 2 million), there were 532.
I kind of like those odds.
Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal.