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Have you changed your mind about what is an acceptable life?

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Just put me on an ice floe and let me float away.  That’s what I’ve heard people say when they talk about a time when they become infirm.  Of course finding an ice floe might soon become so difficult as to make the statement nearly incomprehensible but for now the implication is clear.  Most healthy, active people believe that should a time ever come in their lives that they are not healthy or active that they’ll find that time so painful they won’t want to continue living.  That’s generally when they get around to making out a living will.

A living will or advanced directive tells the medical world and your loved one what interventions will be okay and which ones will not be.  But what seemed undesirable as a healthy 50 something may in fact be just fine as a 70 something with chronic heart problems.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as many as three out of four Americans 65 and over have multiple chronic health conditions.  Yet, according to mental health experts only about 20 percent of those have depression.  While that rate is much higher than what is found in the healthy population, it does illustrate that people compensate for those limitations in other ways or at least accept them.  “Half of all people who have had a heart attack will survive it but they might end up with weakened heart and shortness of breath,” according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Yet few people would consider shortness of breath and all that entails a reason to give up the fight to live.

That’s why it’s important to revisit any legal or medical decisions you’ve made on a fairly regular basis.  In the case of a living will, you should consider updating your decisions any time you are diagnosed with a serious medical issue.  Then, you should consider updating your family on those decisions.  Here’s the original article.

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