Talk About Your Five Wishes

Do you know who will speak for you if you can no longer speak for yourself? A loved one? A stranger? A nurse? Do you know when you will need someone to speak for you because you cannot speak for yourself? None of us really do- it could be a sudden stroke, a traumatic accident, head injury or end of life disease which causes this to occur.

You can speak up for yourself with a simple document; the Five Wishes.

Five Wishes lets your family and doctors know:

  • Who you want to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them.
  • The kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want.
  • How comfortable you want to be.
  • How you want people to treat you.
  • What you want your loved ones to know.

Why Bother with a Healthcare Power of Attorney or Living Will like the Five Wishes?

Living wills such as Five wishes is an endowing gift which allows individuals to speak out for themselves and help their family have peace of mind when the end of life decisions are necessary. Living Wills such as the Five Wishes take the burden of hard decisions off the shoulders of family members, spouses, adult children, and other loved ones, by stating the exact wish of the individual near or long prior to the end of life. Everyone can easily provide this loving gift to others at any age above 18 and at any time in life. The only requirements are a desire to speak for yourself, being competent to sign, and complete a legal document, and have someone you trust who can speak as your power of attorney should the need arise.

Who Can Help Fill Out the Form?

Liberty chaplains, social workers and staff have assisted patients and individuals in filling out the Five Wishes documents and have shared with multiple families.  One patient was assisted by our Liberty Hospice social worker to complete her Five Wishes. The patient was 55 years old with 3 adult children. The patient requested the social worker to leave three additional five wishes booklets with her as well. That night at the dinner table, our patient, in her “matter of fact” way, informed her children that she wished to be cremated with no heroic actions at her time of death. After a brief pause, the children laughed at their mom’s usual less than tactful discourse and light-heartedness and began the conversation for end of life choices.  The family read the five wishes together and discussed their wishes with their mom around a familiar and comfortable dinner table filled with care and love. Our patient enjoyed telling the social worker the family’s story at the next visit.

Not all families are comfortable with this kind of discussion or very little discussion at all at times. When our hospice chaplain approached his 72 year old male patient with making life decisions, he was glad to talk with the chaplain and completed the Five Wishes. This patient seldom conversed well with his family and making this plan was no exception. The Five Wishes document was on file if the need arose for decisions to be made. The need did not arise; until the patient’s funeral.

One of the wishes is: “What you want your loved ones to know.” At the funeral, our chaplain read what the patient had written in his last wish in the patient’s own words. “I want my family to know I am sorry. I was harsh or seemed uncaring. I love each of you with all I am. It has been difficult for me to express myself all my life…” The Five Wishes that day touched hearts needing healing.

Indeed, it is everyone’s right to speak for themselves and be cared for and treated with dignity and respect to their desires. To help assist our patients and their loved ones, Liberty Home Care and Hospice staff provides information packets and educates families and community on how to complete the process of the Five Wishes living will and health care power of attorney. Last week, our sister company, Brightmore of Wilmington, posted a news article, Five Wishes, about a presentation made to their residents by members of our Hospice office in Wilmington. Kelley Wheat-Rivers, Liberty Hospice Chaplain and Teresa Hall, Liberty Hospice Volunteer Coordinator, started the conversation with the residents at Brightmore of Wilmington and provided the information that they would need to continue that conversation with their loved ones.  This uncomfortable discussion is made simpler in an easy to understand and personalized way.

We want to spread the opportunity to allow everyone to give a gift that gives reassurance and comfort to those you love. Contact any hospice staff member for a personal copy or to set up a presentation in your facility for staff or families. There is no fee for this service or copy of the Five Wishes from Liberty Home Care and Hospice. Our gift to you is to be a gift to those you care about.