Resources for Family Caregivers of Older Adults
Five Wishes: Seniors Letting Family Know What They Want

Five Wishes: Seniors Letting Family Know What They Want

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Has your senior loved told you what his or her five wishes are? Do you know your five wishes?

Knowing and documenting those wishes can make some of life’s most difficult times a little less stressful for all.

The Five Wishes informs everyone who needs to know one’s desire to age with dignity and be prepared for what comes.

This document, when filled out completely and signed, is valid under the laws of most states.

It is a personal living will that goes beyond the basics and gives the senior loved one and the entire family an abundance of information you may not have discussed yet or thought about discussing. It is easy to fill out with check boxes and short sentences. It will need to be witnessed by two people to be official and in some states is should be notarized.

If you have questions about legalities you should talk it over with your family lawyer.

Five Wishes

Five Wishes, from Aging with Dignity, is a document that spells out what you want your family to know:

  • Who you want to make decisions for you when you can’t
  • What kind of care you want or refuse to want
  • How do you want to be kept comfortable
  • How you want people to treat you
  • What specific information do you want your family to know

Completing this special document will help family members know exactly what is wanted at a critical time, when second guessing about what to do will often puts family members in a difficult position.

Making wishes known can avoid family disputes at a time when loved ones need caring and nurturing instead of worrying about these tough decisions.

If your senior loved one has already written a living will, you can still complete the Five Wishes document. Once it is completed and signed, the old living will becomes obsolete and can be destroyed or revoked. Once this has been done, be sure all  those appropriate know of this new document and how to access it when needed.

Five Wishes Decisions for Seniors

  1. Who will be my health care agent and make decisions for me as well as a second or third choice in case this person is unable to serve when the time comes?
  2. Choose what life supporting treatments you wish to receive-medical devices, tube feedings, blood transfusions, dialysis, CPR.  Be clear and specific when to and when not to provide these treatments.  Do you want to have a Do Not Resuscitate order?
  3. Select areas where you can express how comfortable you wish to be kept such as you don’t want to be in pain.
  4. Pick from choices about how you want people to treat you such as your wish to die at home.
  5. Select from a list of what you want your family to know such as how much you love them.

Once the choices are made, the form completed and family members told about it, the senior should keep a copy of the form where it will be remembered when going to the hospital or other care facility. The original should be kept in a safe place, with copies going to key family members or other caregivers. There is a special wallet card the senior can carry at all times.

Planning for the future and keeping open communication with the entire family about health issues will make this process easier for everyone. It is never too late or too early to complete this form!

We should all consider the questions and make the tough decisions about our personal desires.

Did you do this already in your family and, if so, are you willing to share your story with our readers?  If so, please leave it in a comment!

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