Aging With Dignity: Five Wishes
Making sure that an elderly parent gets the care that they would have hoped to get should they not be able to communicate is no easy task. If you were to fall seriously ill would your family know what to do to get the health care that you would want?
Five Wishes is an easy to use living will plan that can take all the guess work out of making sure that you or the people that you love has in place a plan for the future. A living will takes all the guess work out of a very stressful situation.
Having a plan in place can help take all the stress out of decision making at a time when emotions are already running high.
The Purpose of Five Wishes
The purpose of five wishes is to help people to get the dignified care that they would hope to get should they be unable to communicate their wishes. The non profit group Aging with Dignity came up with this easy to use tool to help people when they need the help the most.
This document helps people to not have to make tough decisions at the end of life. It provides an easy to follow directive that is well thought out and legally binding.
It addresses the following:
- Who will make the health care decisions for the person in the event they are unable to make their own decisions.
- What kind of medical treatments will be administered.
- What level of comfort measures are to be taken.
- How they would like to be treated by people.
- What level of information should be shared with their loved ones about their condition.
The Five Wishes is recognized as legally binding in 42 states and can be used in conjunction with advanced directives in the other 8 states. Having this simple document on hand can easily cut down on the confusion and the stress when someone falls ill.
It is laid out in very simple language that anyone can read and understand. Unlike other legal documents that can be confusing and full of legal jargon the Five Wishes is set up to be understandable to anyone that can read.
Who Should Get a Copy
Once the Five Wishes form is complete it is highly recommended that the primary care physician is given a copy and asked to hold it in the medical record. It should also be shared with the parties that it concerns like spouses, children, siblings and other close relatives.
If everyone involved has a copy BEFORE anything happens it will give them a chance to open up a discussion about any points they have questions about. The goal is to share this document and share the information.
This can be a family affair. Aging parents and their adult children can come together and fill out the form together. This is a great way that any questions, issues or concerns about the document can be addressed together.
The Five Wishes has met with some criticism because it is not chock full of legal jargon but the answer to that is simple, the goal was never to add more jargon to an already stressful process but instead to free up the language to speak to everyone.
It is very hard to argue with a document that is prepared months or years in advance of a terminal illness or injury. This document is meant to remind all parties involved from family members to health care providers exactly what being treated with dignity means to the patient.
In answer to the critics, there has not been one case where this document and its validity has been litigated over according to Paul Malley President of Aging with Dignity.
An Easy Step
If you or your loved one are concerned about what will happen to you should you fall ill or be injured and unable to advocate for yourself the Five Wishes form is an easy solution. It only takes a few minutes to fill out (of course after a bit of soul searching) and once its done its done. You can change it at any time.
Making sure everyone is on the same page will greatly reduce the stress for both you and your loved ones so that the time that would normally be sent worrying about making choices can be spent with each other. Families fight over what care should be taken for their loved ones. There can be awful in fighting within the family not because people do not love each other but because they do and because they are stressed and confused. Five Wishes wipes out the confusion.
Everyone has the right to say how they will be treated, what health care they prefer and who should help to make those choices for them. Five Wishes insures that all of those things can happen.