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What is Five Wishes?


Updated July 01, 2014

What is Five Wishes?
Photo (c) agingwithdignity.org (used with permission)
Question: What is Five Wishes?
Making your wishes known regarding your health care is critical. We don’t think twice about it when we are healthy and able to speak for ourselves. We tell the doctors what treatments we want and don’t want and the doctors, at least mostly, honor them.

What happens when you can’t speak for yourself? What if you’ve been injured or you’re suffering from a life-limiting illness and can no longer make your own decisions? This is where advanced directives and Five Wishes come into play.

Answer: Five Wishes is a document that, like other advanced directives, makes your wishes known ahead of time. It is unique among other advanced directives, however, because it addresses all of a persons needs: medical, personal, emotional, and spiritual.

According to Aging with Dignity, the organization that created Five Wishes, the document lets your family and health care providers know:

  1. Which person you want to make health care decisions for you when you can't make them.
  2. The kind of medical treatment you want or don't want.
  3. How comfortable you want to be.
  4. How you want people to treat you.
  5. What you want your loved ones to know.

Five Wishes is currently available in 40 states in the U.S. It doesn’t meet the legal requirements in the remaining ten. Many doctors, hospitals, health care agencies, churches, and even employers have the document to distribute. You can also order it online from the Aging with Dignity website.

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