• Five Wishes
  • Because there are many aspects of life that are out of patients' control, especially when serious illness is present, the Five Wishes booklet was created as an easy-to-complete form that allows the patient to say exactly what he or she wants. The beauty of the document is its simplicity combined with sensitivity and specificity. It was written with the help of The American Bar Association's Commission on the Legal Problems of the Elderly, and the nation's leading experts in end-of-life care. Five Wishes is for anyone 18 or older. Because it works so well, lawyers, doctors, hospital, hospices, religious institutions, employers, and retiree groups are handing out this document. Unfortunately each state has different laws and about 10 have restrictions on the use of only this advanced directive.
  • Wish 1:
  • The person I want to make health care decisions for me when I can't make them for myself. This is selecting a durable medical power of attorney. An explicit discussion of whom the patient should select and the specific things the patient wants his or her agent to do are listed.
  • Wish 2:
  • My wish for the kind of medical treatment I want or don't want. This is equivalent to a combination of the classic "living will" and the "advance resuscitation directive." Included in this section is a discussion of "what life-support means to me." It explains what Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) means in simple but explicit lay terms. Specifics of what the patient wants done in the following settings are listed:
    1.Close to death
    2.In a coma and not expected to wake up or recover
    3.Permanent and severe brain damage and not expected to recover
  • Wish 3:
  • My wish for how comfortable I want to be. This specifically requests enough pain medicine to provide comfort, a desire for hands-on care such as bathing, massages; for soft comforting music to be played and for spiritual needs to be fulfilled.
  • Wish 4:
  • My wish for how I want people to treat me. The selections under this wish have to do with personal visitation, attitudes the patient wants conveyed at the bedside, the desire for prayer and spiritual support and a clarification of where the patient wants to die (e.g., home).
  • Wish 5:
  • My wish for what I want my loved ones to know. A wonderful selection of very personal requests is provided. There may be statements about how much someone is loved, a request for forgiveness, a request for family and friends to make peace and bond during the patient's dying process, and a request for burial vs. cremation.
  • For many patients, when the decision not to continue living has been reached, support from hospice and other homecare agencies may be welcomed. Patients have the choice of spending their final days at home or in a facility operated by hospice. Hospice workers offer quality of life, compassion and dignity. Physical, emotional and spiritual support is provided. Control is returned to the patient.
  • The use of advanced directives clarifies what patients want regarding their medical care. Their purpose is to make certain each individual's desires and wishes are followed. Advanced directives do not remove hope or the desire for life. They simply give patients control, freedom, comfort and peace.
  • If you would like more information on this subject, or a copy of Five Wishes, go to the website of http://www.agingwithdignity.org. You may also write to:
  • Aging with Dignity, PO Box 1661
    Tallahassee, FL 32302-1661
    Phone: (850) 681-2010
    Fax: (850) 681-2481.
    Five Wishes is $5 for one copy, or 25/$1 each.

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