What to do
If you do decide you want to donate your body, it's best to make arrangements in advance with a body donation program in your area. Most programs are offered by university-affiliated medical schools. To find one near you, the University of Florida maintains a list of U.S. programs and their contact information at www.med.ufl.edu/anatbd/usprograms.html.
In addition to the medical schools, there are also a number of private organizations like Anatomy Gifts Registry (anatomicgift.com), BioGift (biogift.org) and Science Care (sciencecare.com) that accept whole-body donations too.
If you don't have internet access, you can get help over the phone by calling the National Family Services Desk,which operates a free body donation referral service during business hours,at (800) 727-0700.
Once you locate a program in your area, call and ask them to mail you an information/registration packet that will explain exactly how their program works.
To sign up, you'll simply need to fill out a couple of forms. But, you can always change your mind by revoking your authorization in writing.
After you have made arrangements, you then need to tell your family members so they will know what to do and who to contact after your death.
It's also a good idea to tell your doctor and put your wishes in writing in your advance directives. These are legal documents that include a medical power of attorney and living will that spell out your wishes regarding your end-of-life medical treatment when you can no longer make decisions for yourself.
If you don't have an advance directive, go to caringinfo.org or call (800) 658-8898 where you can get free state-specific forms with instructions to help you make one.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.
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