Frequently Asked Questions: POLST Form vs. Living Will

From the time we’re young, we’re told it’s best to plan for a secure future today. What many of us don’t think about, however, is how we want to be cared for in the future. If something were to happen to you today, do your loved ones know how you’d like to be cared for? As seniors age, it becomes more important to have a secure plan set in place. This can be accomplished with both POLST forms and Living Wills. “When seniors choose to plan ahead for the future and truly want to do everything possible to ensure their needs are met, they often consider how not having a plan will impact their families. They simply don’t want to burden their adult children and their families,” says Jillian Castenallo, Community Relations Director at YourLife™ of Coconut Creek, a Memory Care community in Coconut Creek, Florida. “They don’t want them to have to make difficult decisions about their care with no guidance, and their adult children certainly don’t want to make life-altering decisions that their loved one may not have wanted. Forms like POLST and living wills are set in place to help families feel secure, confident and ready for the road ahead.” One mistake seniors make when planning is something that many other people also do, as well: They think that POLST forms and living wills are the same thing. While it’s easy to believe this, especially because we hear more about living wills than POLST forms, it’s simply not true. Knowing the difference and how to use each form effectively can help to ensure each one of your needs are met and you are cared for exactly how you wish.

What Is a Living Will?

Also called an advanced directive, a living will is a document in which a person states their wishes for their end-of-life care. This legal document allows family and doctors to make decisions about medical treatments in the event the person can’t do it themselves, a sort of guiding light so they don’t have to make these decisions themselves. A living will generally outlines the medical treatments a senior would not want to have, according to Daily Caring. These include:

  • CPR & Resuscitation
  • Mechanical Ventilation
  • Tube Feeding
  • Dialysis
  • Antibiotics & Medication
  • Palliative Care
  • Organ & Tissue Donation

What Is a POLST Form?

POLST forms work in conjunction with living wills to ensure a senior’s wishes are met by ordering a doctor or medical professional to adhere to their wishes. This legal document is an order to tell medical professionals what to do and must be followed. Most often, this is used for terminally ill or frail seniors who have fully made their end-of-life wishes clear, according to an article by Daily Caring.

Key Differences Between POLST Forms and Living Wills

There are many other ways that POLST forms and living will differ. Consider some of the following:

  • Living wills are for those 18 and older. While POLST forms are used mainly for older seniors, living wills can be made by adults 18 years old and up.
  • Who can use each form is very specific. Living wills can be used by anyone, regardless of health. POLST forms must be used by those who are very ill.
  • Unlike POLST forms, living will don’t have to be adhered to. Medical professionals are required to do what they can to save you and provide full medical treatment, no matter what your living will states. When it comes to a POLST form, it’s a legal doctor’s order, so they must follow it. This goes for all medical treatments.
  • POLST forms aren’t recognized in every state. While many states accept POLST forms, there are a few that currently do not. Be sure to talk with your doctor to find out your options.

For more information about living wills and POLST forms, we invite you to contact the team at YourLife™ of Coconut Creek. We would be happy to provide you with information, guidance in how to begin planning for your future and give you the support you need. For more information or to schedule a tour, call us today at 954-228-6252.

Inspiring Memory Care Designed for You. Defined by You.

YourLife™ of Coconut Creek was created to provide the most exceptional Memory Care and uplifting lifestyle for our residents. We focus all our energy, attention and resources to creating a community that caters to each resident’s personal needs, respects their choices and honors individuality, while providing unequaled peace of mind and support for families. Because Memory Care is our sole focus, we have the unique ability to design and personally tailor plans around our residents. We understand that each resident is an individual that has their own story, specific needs and retained abilities, so we develop personally inspired care plans that value and support each person’s independence. Our team of attentive, caring YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide assistance with everyday activities, gentle reminders and redirection. With YourStory, our signature programming, we create an individual experience centered around each resident. From cultural, educational and holistic health and wellness programming, outings and an array of other special events to personal care, assistance and therapies, we create days with meaning. At YourLife™ of Coconut Creek, our residents and families know that this is a community designed for you, with a lifestyle defined by you. Contact us to learn more! Call us at ​954-228-6252 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.