Whenever we help a client prepare a Living Will (what are their thoughts
about being kept alive artificially) or a Designation of Health Care Surrogate
(who will make medical decisions for them if they are incapacitated),
we offer them the chance to also include a Memorandum of Additional Instructions
The Memo is not a legally binding document itself like the Living Will
or the Designation of Health Care Surrogate, but the Memo gives them a
chance to include additional information about their philosophy for living
and dying and about how their health care surrogate should interpret those
wishes. It gives them a chance to offer advance guidance to their health
care surrogate when a difficult medical decision has to be made.
Being a health care surrogate is a tough job. It is tough because it involves
making decisions at an emotional time based upon what someone else wants,
not based upon what the health care surrogate may personally want. It
can be an emotionally wrenching experience to let go of someone the health
care surrogate loves. Knowing that they are following the wishes of that
loved one can make a difficult decision a little bit easier to bear because
the haunting questions of whether they did or did not make the right decision
have been eliminated because of the directions prepared and shared by
their loved one.
Some clients chose not to include the Memo because just looking at the
Memo worksheet has prompted them to have a discussion with their health
care surrogate and the rest of their family about their wishes. Whether
your philosophy for living or dying is contained in something like the
Memo or just shared with your family face to face, the important result
is that they know what you want which can be a big source of comfort when
the day to make a decision arrives.
So do your family and your health care surrogate a favor and prepare a
road map for tomorrow today.