Life-Prolonging Treatment and Powers of Attorney

by Senior Advocate and Estate Planning Lawyer Rick Law of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law.  Located in Aurora, IL just off the I-88 Tollway, LEL provides wills and trusts, probate, guardianship, Medicaid crisis planning, estate planning and more.

An example of a powerful power of attorney is one that includes language that individuals can choose to elect, if they wish, so that they can tell their families what to do in situations, even though they may not be diagnosed as being terminally ill.

Most living wills and health-care power of attorney statutory forms include instructions regarding life-prolonging treatment. The triggering event for the decision to withhold or withdraw life-prolonging treatment is usually a diagnosis by the principal’s attending physician that the principal suffers from a terminal condition, injury, or illness from which death is imminent.

Many physicians do not diagnose either Alzheimer’s-type dementia or other dementias as a “terminal condition, injury, or illness from which death is imminent.” It is very common for doctors to recommend a feeding tube when a person with late stage dementia is no longer able to swallow. An individual’s opinions on life-prolonging treatment when and if they have dementia and need a feeding tube should be customized and added into their health-care power of attorney. Your lawyer can take the guilt off your family by asking you to say either “No, I don’t want that” or “Yes, I want my life prolonged.”

A powerful Power of Attorney gives an individual the opportunity to say, “You know what? I don’t want antibiotics either.” Everyone has a constitutional right to refuse medical treatments. But if you don’t include that information in your power of attorney, there is the potential that you may be given antibiotics against your will.

Sit down with your lawyer and discuss what kind of treatment you would want if you don’t have a terminal illness, but are diagnosed with dementia. We now know that if a person lives to be 85 years old, that person has close to a 50 percent chance of having dementia.

An experienced elder law attorney can sit you down and accomplish some decision making about what to tell your family in the event that you get Alzheimer’s or another dementia and you are to the point that you can’t make your own decisions, but you’re not necessarily diagnosed as terminally ill. The first move is yours to make.

If you’re ready to start getting your estate in order and secure your assets for the “worst-case” scenario, please give our office a call at 800-310-3100. Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.


Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine,, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care. 

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