Many people are encouraged to plan “financially” in preparation for a serious illness or death. But few are encouraged to plan “logistically”.
Submitted by Sharon Davidson,
Senior Director of Community Engagement
If you are diagnosed with a serious illness or faced with a terminal prognosis, how do you want to be treated? Do you want aggressive medical treatment? Is comfort or quality of life more important than extending your life? What if you couldn’t speak for yourself?
To ensure your voice is heard, it’s important to complete an Advance Directive like Five Wishes. Five Wishes is a living will (advance directive) addressing your personal, emotional, and spiritual needs as well as your medical wishes. It is easy to use and recommended for anyone 18 or older.
Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity – especially at the end of life. Five Wishes allows you to decide in advance what that means to you. It addresses subjects like your personal definition of “life support treatment.” You decide how comfortable you want to be especially when it comes to medication disbursement. Do you want visitors or to be left alone? If you become bed-bound, what items would you like near you? Five Wishes allows you to say exactly how you wish to be treated if you become seriously ill.
One way Five Wishes lets your voice be heard is through the designation of a health care agent (surrogate). Not to be confused with an executor of a will or an estate, your health care agent makes health care decisions for you, based on your pre-discussed preferences, if you are not able to make them for yourself. This person should be someone who knows you very well, cares about you, and can make difficult decisions. Sometimes a spouse or family member may not be the best choice because they are too emotionally involved. Choose someone who will stand up for you and honor your wishes.
Finally, what do you want your loved ones to know? Completing Five Wishes allows the start of reconciliation discussions and forgiveness. When featured in media outlets, Five Wishes has been called the first “living will with a heart and soul.”
To learn more about Advance Care Directives or request a Five Wishes document visit https://bigbendhospice.org/advance-directives. There is also an option to complete the document online through “Five Wishes on Demand.”