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Five Wishes for the New Year and Beyond

5 Wishes Advanced DirectiveThere’s something about the passage of another year that urges us to turn over a new leaf. But in most circumstances, resolving is easy — making a lasting change is hard. There’s a reason why New Year’s resolutions are often the stuff of jokes, with punchlines like unused gym memberships and abandoned novels.

However, there is one resolution you can make and accomplish in a short time, with effects that will last throughout 2015 — and beyond. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to create an ‘advance directive’: a legally binding living will that makes clear your desires for medical treatment and end-of-life concerns. By thinking ahead about your personal wishes, you can enter the New Year with fresh assurance that you’ll receive the care and treatment you desire, if and when you need it. And thanks to one inclusive document, the process may be simpler than you think.

Five Wishes is a short booklet created by the nonprofit organization Aging with Dignity, with the cooperation of the American Bar Association. Once filled out and properly signed, Five Wishes currently meets the legal requirements of 42 states, including Michigan and Illinois. This document is notable for its plain explanations, clearly laid-out choices, and inclusion of personalized requests.

Health care instructions

The Five Wishes booklet can be an inexpensive alternative to completing a living will document with a lawyer. If you ever fall seriously ill, or are unable to speak for yourself or make your own health care decisions, Five Wishes clearly indicates who you have selected to make decisions on your behalf (Wish 1) as well as what medical interventions, if any, you want to have taken (Wish 2).

The document is written in a way that allows you to tailor the instructions to your preferences — either crossing out individual points, or adding your own. Moreover, each step includes easy-to-understand explanations about choosing the right health care agent, making exceptions to the types of treatments that fall under the category of ‘life support,’ and making changes in the future if desired.

Personal, spiritual, and emotional needs

Beyond the legally binding requirements for medical decisions, Five Wishes places equal emphasis on your individual preferences, intending to ensure your personal comfort and dignity near the end of life (Wishes 3, 4, and 5). Some of the concerns addressed in these sections include:

  • How much pain relief you would prefer
  • Whether you would want to die at home, if possible
  • How you would want your surroundings, such as favorite music or photos of loved ones
  • What level of personal care and bathing you would want others to maintain for you
  • Ensuring the extent of your religious and spiritual needs are met
  • Your preferences for funeral and burial/cremation arrangements
  • How you would like family and friends to remember you

Simple, affordable peace of mind

Any person age 18 or over can complete Five Wishes, which can be ordered as a paper booklet or filled out entirely online, for a nominal fee. The document, which is now available in dozens of languages, has been completed by millions of people.

With the simplicity and certainty of Five Wishes, you can begin 2015 with a quick success that offers long-lasting peace of mind. So why not start the year by resolving to make your wishes known?