Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Fearing Covid-19, Older People Alter Their Living Wills

CoronavirusMinna Buck, 91, had been following the craze surrounding COVID-19. Last month, Buck decided to revise a document specifying her wishes if she were to become critically ill. Buck's revision included the words, "No intubation" in big letters in order to make her wishes clear. 

Minna Buck was aware that she would likely not survive a serious infection like COVID-19, so she wanted to be sure that she would not be put on a ventilator under any circumstances. Buck, who lives in a continuing care retirement community in Denver, selflessly stated, "I don't want to put everybody through the anguish." 

For the older community, ventilators symbolize a lack of personal control as well as the power of technology. In other words, the fear of being put on a ventilators is a terrifying thought for these communities. This makes COVID-19 an even more terrifying thought, since respiratory failure is a signature symptom of the illness. The harsh reality is that those in their 80s or 90s, will not have a good chance of defeating the illness, even if put on a ventilator; and the risk is even greater for those who have underlying health conditions. 

Like Buck, Joyce Edwards, who is 61, also revised her advanced directive to state that she did not want to be put on a ventilator if she were to have COVID-19. Edwards said that she had her quality of life in mind when she made the decision and she felt that being placed on a ventilator would keep her from enjoying the things she loves most.

For the seniors, COVID-19 forces them to face these issues. Being placed on a ventilator can work one of two ways: One, the ventilator could help assist you in your uphill battle of recovery; or two, you could spend your last days hooked up to a machine that is essentially robbing you of your last days. The decision is yours!

See Fearing Covid-19, Older People Alter Their Living Wills, SFGate, May 9, 2020.

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/trusts_estates_prof/2020/05/fearing-covid-19-older-people-alter-their-living-wills.html

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