End Of Life Issues: Seven Myths Debunked

Harvard Medical School debunks commonly held myths about end of life issues and emphasizes the importance of fully understanding the truth behind your medical care during this stage.

It is critical to have key documents in place, such as a Do Not Resuscitate order, Living Will, Final Will and Testament, and life insurance. Without specific documents, decisions may be made by a doctor or judge who is unfamiliar with you, your wishes, or your core values.

See if you can identify the correct and incorrect answers to the following questions:

  1. More care is not always preferable.
    • True. More care and health initiatives may sometimes prolong the dying process without regard for true quality of life. A strong healthcare team can be of invaluable assistance in this area.
  2. Medical treatments can be initiated and terminated.
    • True. You and your doctor can approve a treatment or medication for a trial period and then discontinue it if the results are not as expected.
  3. Refusing to use life support constitutes suicide and invalidates your life insurance.
    • False. Your life insurance will be valid if the medical problem or illness is identified as the cause of death.
  4. A living will makes no mention of the treatments you desire for end of life.
    • False. A living will specifies the treatments you prefer, such as dialysis, breathing machines, resuscitation techniques, tube feeding, and organ or tissue donation.
  5. Your life insurance policy’s underage beneficiaries will still receive death benefits.
    • True. If the children are under the age of 18, a guardian or surviving spouse must be named. The guardian can be named by the parent as part of their life insurance beneficiary designation or in their wills.
  6. Refusing or refusing artificial nutrition and hydration causes pain in a dying person.
    • False. Unlike withholding food or water from a healthy person, refusing artificial nutrition or intravenous hydration does not cause pain in a dying person.
  7. You do not need to present a death certificate to the life insurance company when the insured passes away in order to claim benefits.
    • False. A death certificate must accompany the claim as proof of death, along with a specific insurance claim form.

We hope that this article has helped you debunk some of the most commonly held end of life issues myths.

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