gratefully acknowledges the assistance and guidance of Messrs
Maurice Phillips Wisenberg of 2 Long Street, Cape Town (www.mpw.co.za)
in compiling this information.
“It is important to obtain your own
legal advice for the preparation of your will. The information herein
should not be regarded as a substitute for such advice.
You are strongly urged to consult an attorney before making a
decision or taking action”.
What is a living will?
It is a document that speaks for you when your medical condition is such
that you can not do so yourself. Your attorney and your health-care provider
will be able to advise you on the ethical and legal implications.
Prolonging life but may not be in your best interest. Human dignity,
dying peacefully, cost- and family considerations all play a role.
The living will ensures that your wishes will be respected.
Prepare this whilst your decision-making capability is beyond doubt. Be
informed and familiar with your diagnosis, prognosis as well as the type
and nature of treatment available to you. Consult with your doctor, attorney
and family before deciding on the type of advance directive
you want to have in place.
1. A living will.
Instructions about what should be done when you are seriously ill and
can’t speak for yourself. In a living will
you preempt a future event and your instructions
are the guiding principle. Health care professionals, family and friends
must respect your wishes.
2. A Power of Attorney.
You appoint a surrogate decision-maker to act in your best interest.
It is more flexible than a living will. Technological advances, new treatments
and drugs may have been developed - you leave it to your appointed proxy
to decide, with due consideration to your wishes and his
best and considered opinion.
Careful thought must go into the choice of a surrogate decision
Older adults may not have relatives who are prepared to act in this role.
Family and friends may be traumatised or confused. It is often unfair
to expect them to make these decisions. It can also cause tremendous conflict
and dissent and it’s not uncommon for such cases to end up in court.
Your physician understands the technical aspects and your lawyer the legal
aspects of your situation and they are probably a better choice if you
do not have a trusted child or a close person.
in medical science and
clinical procedures mean that you can
be kept alive for as long as possible -
this may not be what you want ...
There is so much information available but take care as laws differ
from country to country. You’ll find extensive and excellent
Medline Plus is a publication of the US National Library of
Medicine and the National Institute of Health of the United States
gratefully acknowledges their consent to sprovide this link to
the senior citizens of South Africa.