Despite tabloid claims that 50 is the new 30, and incredible advancements in personal care products which allow people to maintain a youthful appearance much longer than ever before, the fact remains that getting older is unavoidable. For many, advancement in age leads to some rather difficult considerations, particularly when it comes to deciding how to handle end-of-life concerns. One of the most controversial topics that elderly people—or anyone preparing in advance—is concept of quality of life and the role it should play in planning for the future.
New Illinois Law
The issue of quality of life was brought to the forefront by Illinois lawmakers last year as they sought to amend the state’s law regarding the power of attorney for health care. As many may be aware, a power of attorney for health care allows an individual to appoint another person or entity, called an “agent,” to make medical decisions on his or her behalf when necessary. The amended law asks an individual to decide between two, very different, philosophical positions regarding end-of-life matters. For many, this decision requires a great deal of careful thought and consideration.
Length of Life
For some, simply continuing to live is the most important factor in making medical decisions. They expect that any and all measures will be taken to keep them alive, regardless of pain, risk, expense, or likelihood of recovery. If a particular procedure or device can prolong life to any extent whatsoever, it should be employed.
Quality of Life
For others, being technically alive is not the same as “living.” Communicating with family and friends, as well as experiencing the world around them significantly adds to the quality of life. In such situations in which a properly-qualified medical professional believes that regaining consciousness or the ability to enjoy life is highly unlikely, extreme measures should not be used just to delay death.
Quality of life considerations are often difficult because of the expanse of gray area between the two extremes. Most people, of course, are not ready to accept death, but also do not want to remain on a respirator for months unaware of visitors and unable to speak to family. Personal values and religious beliefs may also contribute greatly to such concerns, particularly regarding the value of human life and the individual’s belief in an afterlife.
No matter where you may in the decision-making process, the compassionate team at Kezy & Associates is prepared to help. Our experienced Illinois elder law attorneys can assist you in developing advance medical directives, including a living will or a power of attorney for health care, which meet your needs and desires. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.