It’s frustrating to realize how much of your life is out of control. But, when it comes to the end of your journey, you have a right to communicate how you want to be treated and what medical steps should be taken. A program called Five Wishes helps to put things into perspective for families, so they don’t play the guessing game.
Dealing with illness is frustrating, especially if it’s sudden or fatal. So many questions need to be answered, like do you want to be resuscitated and your family to use life support? How do you feel about pain medication? These are all things you should lay out before the time comes.
Why Can Five Wishes Help?
Five Wishes is a document that helps you and your family prepare for death. It allows you to put your wishes in place, and it assists health care providers, your family, and all others to ensure these occur. It’s a binding document that doesn’t need to be notarized, but you will need at least two witnesses. This document is legal in California and most other states.
Think of this paper as a way to help you facilitate a difficult conversation. It’s a sensitive topic that most people don’t want to talk about, but it certainly takes the pressure off the family to have all of these things already laid out.
Advance Healthcare Directives
Most people have a power of attorney and living will that will help them with some of their directives, but Five Wishes goes a bit further. Three sections go more in-depth about your final days and how you want things to be. With the help of the information, you can explore options like palliative and hospice care and the local agencies that you might want to use.
Comfort care is a big topic that means different things to different people. You can lay out specifics that help you to relax and feel more comfortable. Another important thing is your dignity and what that means to you. Do you desire spiritual care, and how do you feel about people coming into the home and praying with you?
Some people request that a pet is at their bedside while actively passing, as pets tend to calm you. You can even list closure matters such as forgiveness and reconciliation to make sure your intentions are known.
Obtaining Five Wishes Documents
Any hospice care team has copies of the Five Wishes documents for you and your family to review. However, if you’re not currently signed up on hospice, you can get one through the Aging with Dignity organization. When you want to have your wishes heard and go beyond the traditional health care directives, this is a great way to help your family and you.