Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
top of page

Why Living Wills Are Not Just For The Elderly

Some people mistakenly believe Living Wills are of concern only to the elderly and seriously ill. This is not the case. A serious auto accident, injury or illness can strike an individual at any age. While the probability of young and healthy individuals becoming incompetent or terminally ill is low, the advantages of Advance Medical Directives in such cases can be especially significant. That's because patients in a comatose or vegetative state have been known to linger for decades. In fact, many law cases involving whether to sustain or withhold life-supporting measures have involved young, previously healthy people. A number of cases have made national headlines - Karen Ann Quinlan (21 years old when she lapsed into a persistent vegetative state) and Nancy Cruzan (25 years old when she became per-

manently unconscious) are among those cases. Joe Cruzan, Nancy's father, says, "Because of Nancy, I suspect hundreds of thousands of people can rest free, knowing that when death beckons, they can meet it face to face with dignity ... I think this is quite an accomplishment for a 25-year-old kid and I'm proud of her." The father of another young woman without a Living Will, 20 year-old Christine Busalacchi, who was in a permanently vegetative state in the same Missouri Hospital as Cruzan, commented, "The paradox is that people who know my daughter and love her would like to see her die. But everyone else who doesn't know her says she has to live... It's been a 34-month funeral." It is this kind of anguish that Living Wills can remedy. The Terry Schiavo case was a case of a young woman who did not have a Living Will. Because of the fact that she had not made any decision in advance—her family was torn apart and there was a media frenzy.


bottom of page