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Living Will vs. Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)

A living will and a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) are different medical advance directives that can allow you to tell your loved ones how you want to be cared for in the event you are unable to do so yourself.

  • A living will outlines what medical measures you want taken (if any) to be kept alive (artificially) if you are in an end-of-life situation. Stipulations can include life support, tube feeding, mechanical breathing, dialysis, palliative care, pain management, organ donations, etc. The living will document can also state how long you want medical intervention continued (days, weeks, months, etc.). This is typically a document that your Denver estate planning lawyer will draft for you.
  • A DNR is an order that states you do not want be resuscitated with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with or without an electric shock to stimulate your heart if your breathing stops. This order must be signed by you (the patient) and the doctor. This order may also be signed by a guardian of the patient or a representative for the patient. It is placed into your medical record so the directive can be accessed by other medical personnel in the future. This is typically a document that you fill out with your doctor.

While it can be uncomfortable to think about end-of-life situations, creating these documents is a way to protect your loved ones from having to make these very difficult decisions for you. These are very personal decisions that vary greatly depending on your own religious, cultural, social or spiritual beliefs and values. We never know what the future holds. Unthinkable situations such as becoming terminally ill, being in a coma or developing dementia can prevent you from making your own decisions. If the family members having to make these decisions don’t agree on the life-saving treatments, this can lead to a rift within the family.

Medical Power of Attorney

You may also want to designate an agent under medical power of attorney. This person would be responsible for making your medical decision if you are unable to communicate on your own. It is one more layer of protection for your family members.

Changing Your Mind

As times goes on, you may actually change your mind about certain life-sustaining or resuscitation procedures. There may be new technologies that could be implemented or you may receive a new diagnosis that could significantly impact your decisions. That’s why it is so important to review your documents regularly and make changes when needed to reflect your new ideas about end-of-life medical care.

The Denver estate planning lawyers at The Brown Law Firm, LLC can help you draft a living will in Colorado and help you understand your options for end-of-life treatment. Call (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online to learn more.