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Make sure your loved one has a living will.


What You Should Know

End of life decisions can be difficult. A living will can simplify care decisions during this painful time.

Not to be confused with a last will, a living will is a legal document that describes a person’s end of life wishes. A living will specifies the circumstances in which an individual wants or does not want medical interventions, such as feeding tubes, respirators and pain medication.

A living will is a type of legal document called an “advance healthcare directive,” which enables families to make plans in case of terminal illness.

Another useful advance healthcare directive is called a health care proxy. It specifies who can make care decisions for a loved one who can no longer make them on their own. In some states it may be called a “durable power of attorney for health care” or “appointment of a health care agent.” For more information, see Related Tasks below.

Steps To Take

  • Talk with your loved one about their wishes for end of life care.
  • Download the AARP document for their state and follow the instructions.
  • Consider signing a health care proxy. For more information see the Related Tasks section below.
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