Have you ever thought about what would happen if you were stricken with some incurable or insufferable disease that would inevitably drag out the last years of your life? Of course not, most of us don’t dwell in the despair and dreadful thoughts that are end-of-life planning. However, despite our denial of these possibilities, these are very real situations that happen to people everyday around the world. In 2020 in Malaysia alone, there were over 48 000 cases of cancer diagnosed this year. And while you might think living wills and planning is something designated for elderly, those with children, or otherwise unhealthy and/or vulnerable people, millennials and young people are just in as much danger as the rest of the population. The number of patients aged 18 to 40 hospitalized in Malaysia have doubled in recent times. 30% of Malaysians from the ages of 20 to 29 are obese, 26% have high cholesterol, and 13% have hypertension. Our health as a nation is worsening, and it’s not getting better anytime soon. Regardless of your age, chances are you are at high risk of worsening health down the road. The time is now to start planning for the unfortunate event should you be bed-ridden or stricken with a disease that leaves you suffering endlessly and unnecessarily. Chances are while you’re reading this, you know someone that has one, or a combination of all of the above medical afflictions. You yourself might be suffering from poor health. You can’t control what happens in the future to your body, but at least take the time today to control how you are going to respond to it.
By planning for a living will, you take charge of the medical decisions inevitably inflicted onto you and ensure you aren’t suffering needlessly. Do you want to end up like the 75-year old man and patient stuck in a hospital bed, unable to move and condemned to a life of having nurses change his clothes and watch him for bedsores? Avoid the long-drawn out, and painful death that prolongs the inevitable by creating a living will today. While situations like these seem unlikely, the fact of the matter is when it does it happen, it’s long and painful and insufferable. In cases of which you might be terminally ill, facing imminent death, afflicted with a severe and irreversible condition which impairs your consciousness, or in a situation where life support would be extended or withdrawn for terminal illnesses with no recourse. It’s a scary but very real situation many people face in Malaysia on a daily basis. The only way to protect yourself from suffering needlessly in a hospital bed for years on end with no quality of life is to create a living will today. This simple document is legally binding and provides clear directives to carry out your wishes for medical professionals and your loved ones alike.
What does a living will do? It gives you the power to determine how you want to end your suffering before you lose your decision-making abilities. The living will provides medical professionals like your doctors and nurses guidelines on how to implement your wishes. The living will can even be as detailed to give doctors instructions on specific events, such as in a case of rapidly deteriorating health with little chances of survival, you could dictate a provision of not wanting to be resuscitated. Living wills ensure there is no confusion over your wishes, and protects your peace of mind. Instead of leaving the difficult decision over what to do with your body to strangers, you are in charge of ensuring your quality of life. Why put loved ones like family members to make heart-wrenching decisions over your life during times of intense stress during medical emergencies? By thinking and planning how you want to deal with these very real situations now, when you are lucid and of a clear-mind, you ensure that rushed and impractical decisions aren’t being made in the heat of the moment. It avoids conflicts among family members, confusion over doctors, and above all, ensures your wishes are being carried out.
In addition to providing clarity for medical decisions, living wills also have provisions for financial assets and living arrangements. Lots of elderly people over the age of 65 have reported being financially abused by those closest to them. Protect your money and ensure you will have the resources to take care of yourself when the time comes. Additionally, you may have a wish to die in a specific place, like your home. It’s certainly much more comforting and sentimental than a sterile hospital room. Ensure your wishes are respected with a living will.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that you never know when your time is up. Even worse, you might end up in an unfortunate situation wherein you are stuck on a ventilator for weeks or months, with no end in sight and no guarantee of consciousness or quality of life at the end of it. A living will is the only recognized, legally binding document in Malaysia that ensures and protects your wishes on how decisions on your behalf should be carried out. Don’t put your quality of life in the hands of someone else. Create a living will and have peace of mind should the unfortunate occur.
This article was written to give you an understanding of what a living will is. However in Malaysia, the law is not too clear about living will, as is in other developed nations. The following three articles reported in TheStar explains the ongoing debate.
The good news is we can use a Power of Attorney for Healthcare where you can authorize an individual to make decisions on your behalf. To learn more please visit: https://willsmalaysia.my/power-of-attorney
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