Five Wishes

Do you remember this Mother Goose rhyme about wishes? Did you say it when you were a child? Did you teach it to your children? What about Jiminy Cricket's famous song from Pinocchio , "When You Wish Upon a Star"? How exciting it was to be the one to see the first star in the sky! These warm memories put a smile on my face and in my heart. I recalled these childhood icons a few weeks ago and started thinking. Why don't we say 'wishes' as adults? Why don't we hear others talk about wishing for something? Could it be that wishes and wishing are relegated to childhood and, as adults, we should know better? Oh, I hope not! Wishes represent hope and should be an integral part of our lives -- especially Five Wishes.

The special thing about Five Wishes is that it's the first legal living will which gives an opportunity to express personal, emotional, and spiritual wishes for end-of-life care. It's been called the first living will "with a heart." As with other living wills, Five Wishes also includes the usual medical and health care representative directives.

South Carolina made Five Wishes a legal document last year. Anyone can write their own Five Wishes as long as they are over 18 and sign it appropriately. It's easy to use: make the decisions, check a box, circle an answer, or write a sentence or two. Then, be sure to share your wishes with family, and/or friends. Remember to give a copy of your Five Wishes to your physician. Five Wishes has now become the preferred living will for over 8 million people and has been legalized in 40 states. Only witnesses and a notary are necessary.

The Five Wishes booklet is helpful in a number of ways. It helps your family, friends, and doctor to know how you want to be treated if you become seriously ill. Family members will not have to guess and make hard decisions about your care; they'll know your wishes exactly. By using Five Wishes , your caregivers may find great comfort in being able to grant your healthcare wishes and feel deep relief to know that you have already made these difficult decisions. You can be there for them when they need you most.

Five Wishes guides people through the process of creating their own personalized living wills. Making your five wishes is as simple as answering these five questions:

1. Who do I want to make care decisions for me when I can't?
2. What kind of medical treatment do I want or don't want?
3. How comfortable do I want to be?
4. How do I want people to treat me?
5. What do I want my loved ones to know?

Many healthcare organizations and agencies now have information about the Five Wishes living will. You may call Lutheran Hospice at 848-1777 for more information or to schedule a free Five Wishes seminar. Give those who care about you greater peace of mind with a copy of your own Five Wishes .