Caregivers often need guidance when facing important questions during the treatment of a loved one, whether or not they are in hospice care. Those questions can create added stress, on top of the stress that comes when a loved one faces serious illness.
Many caregivers are not aware of a new program that can help answer those questions and put them more at ease. The Five Wishes program creates an advance directive that helps patients spell out the course of action they wish to have taken to their doctors and caregivers. It helps people make important end-of-life care decisions that address their medical, personal, emotional and spiritual needs before a health crisis or hospice care is needed.
“I’ve seen many people use the Five Wishes program, and their families have really been thankful for having it in place,” said Archie Stevens, chaplain and volunteer coordinator with Liberty HomeCare & Hospice Services. “It really helps ease the concerns of caregivers and families.”
Liberty HomeCare & Hospice Services participates in several Five Wishes events during the calendar year. The Five Wishes program answers five key questions for patients:
Who will make decisions for you when you can’t make them yourself?
What kind of medical treatment do you want or not want?
How comfortable would you like to be?
How do you want people to treat you?
What do you want your loved ones to know?
More than 14 million copies of the Five Wishes document are now circulating in the U.S. The Five Wishes document includes such information as who is the authorized power of attorney for you, whether life support treatment is desired, and details of ongoing medical treatment. The Five Wishes document, which must be legally notarized, meets legal requirements in more than 40 states, including North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
That’s a pivotal fact, especially since more than 35 percent of people in nursing homes and more than 70 percent of those receiving in home care do not have advance directives. But the Five Wishes program isn’t just for those who face a life-limiting illness, according to Stevens.
“Everyone can use the program,” he said. “Proper planning is so vital. You never know what can happen, and it is always best to be prepared. The Five Wishes program is a strong step in that direction.”