Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Do you have a living will, advanced directives or a health care surrogate? Making legal plans for possible future events is one way that you can make sure your wishes are carried out if you are unable to speak or advocate for yourself.

“Five Wishes is America’s most popular living will because it’s written in everyday language and helps people express their wishes in areas that matter most — the personal and spiritual in addition to the medical and legal.

It also helps you describe what good care means to you, whether you are seriously ill or not. It allows your caregiver to know exactly what you want. Completing Five Wishes is a gift to your family, friends and your doctor because it keeps them out of the difficult position of having to guess what kind of treatment you want or don’t want. Families also use Five Wishes to help start and guide family conversations about care in times of serious illness.

Five Wishes is helpful for all adults – everyone over 18 years old – and anyone can start the conversation within a family. Sometimes it begins with grandparents and other times it is the younger family members who bring up the topic. Regardless of your age, you can bring this gift to your family.”

The first wish is about who you want to make medical decisions for you if you cannot do so yourself. This wish includes a clear description of responsibilities for your health agent.

The second wish examines what kind of care you do or do not want and under what circumstances.

The third wish discusses how comfortable you want to be. This wish goes beyond medication to consider other comforts like favorite music, loved ones around your bedside, being kept clean and much more.

The fourth wish considers how you want to be treated by other people. For example, do you want members of your faith community to be around you and pray for you? Do you want someone to hold your hand and speak softly to you even if you appear to be unresponsive?

The fifth wish concerns what you want your loved ones to know about your death and funeral or services. Do you want a memorial service of some kind? What would you like included? Who would you like to have speak?

A legal document like Five Wishes, which is legal in most states, assures that you remain in control of your health and your health care, not only at the end of life, but also in the event you are temporarily incapacitated. By making your wishes known in a legal document, you prevent your family from having to interpret what they each think you would want, and so they will not have to fight over decisions. This is a gift for you and your family.

Five Wishes is available from

From Life Recycled: Creating a New Normal in the Face of Chronic Illness (c) Linda Ruescher to be released in April 2018.