Five Wishes

Five Wishes is an advance directive that was written by Aging with Dignity, a non-profit located in Tallahassee, Florida.  Its mission is to “affirm and safeguard the human dignity of individuals as they age and to promote better care for those near the end of life”.  Five Wishes was written with the help of the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging and the nation’s leading experts on end-of-life care.

It is a paper booklet 10 pages long that allows an individual over 18 to give direction for:

  • The person I want to make care decisions for me when I can’t
  • The kind of medical treatment I want or don’t want
  • How comfortable I want to be
  • How I want people to treat me
  • What I want my loved ones to know

It claims to be legal in 42 states (but useful in all 50).  Once completed correctly, it overrides any previous living will or durable power of attorney for health care you may have.  You should consult your attorney before revoking any previous directives, however.

I went to their web site and called to order a copy for review.  It was only $5.00 and is simple to complete.  It is offered in 26 different languages (and I believe Braille).  It is personal in style and very clearly states your options pertaining to medical care and how you would like to be treated.  It provides blank spaces for extra thoughts or requests you might have.

On a personal note, my husband and I completed a living will before moving to Germany and gave copies to our parents.  It was a little stressful meeting with a lawyer, paying the fees and considering “worst case scenarios”; however it is well worth the hassle.  The “Five Wishes” would be a nice addition to a will and is considerably cheaper.

Completing a document concerning your wishes for end-of-life care is incredibly important.  It communicates your desires and reduces the burden for family members or friends.  Remember to give copies to your closest friends, family members, doctor, and lawyer.


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