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Five Wishes, America’s Most Popular Living Will


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Aging with Dignity is a national non-profit organization with a mission 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-smThe life and work of Mother Teresa of Calcutta served as the inspirational foundation of Aging with Dignity. 

 Her tender care and concern for all a person’s needs – medical, emotional and spiritual – served as the inspiration for Five Wishes, America’s most popular living will.

Aging with Dignity introduced Five Wishes in Florida in 1997, and a year later, to the nation. Dubbed “the living will with a heart and soul,” Five Wishes today meets the legal requirements in 40 states and has helped literally millions of people plan for and receive the kind of care they want.

Five Wishes is unique among all other advance directives and living wills because it is user-friendly and easy to complete. The document is available in 23 languages and in Braille.

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.

Five Wishes is changing the way America talks about and plans for care at the end of life. More than 12 million copies of Five Wishes are in circulation across the nation, distributed by more than 15,000 organizations. Five Wishes meets the legal requirements in 40 states and is useful in all 50.

Five Wishes has become America’s most popular living will because it is written in everyday language and helps start and structure important conversations about care in times of serious illness.

  • Aging with Dignity believes we have responsibility in our society, local communities and families to care for the most vulnerable among us – those who are sick, aged, weak, disabled, poor and isolated.
  • Those suffering with a serious illness should not simply be seen as an object on a health care conveyor belt. We should emphasize the things that people say matter the most – comfort, personal dignity, family relationships and spiritual matters.
  • There should be a focus on providing quality and dignified care for those struggling with a serious illness so that people will not fear dying alone and in pain. Assisted suicide is not the answer to the challenges faced at the end of life.
  • Every adult has the right to make health care decisions in advance of a health crisis. The should be able to convey these decisions in legally valid documents that are easy to understand, allow people to put their wishes in their own words and include matters of the heart and soul.

Here is what others are saying about Five Wishes.

One of the best templates is called Five Wishes, which was created by Aging With Dignity …” —Glenn Ruffenach, The Wall Street Journal

“If you can’t speak, documents such as Five Wishes help make clear what relatives should do…The burdens on a family are significantly reduced when the patient has made decisions in advance–for instance, choosing a surrogate to act on his or her behalf by filling out a durable power of attorney for health care.  A living will, also known as an advance directive, helps a proxy understand the patients wishes–and ‘avoids the suspicion that a family is doing something for ulterior motives’…”
—Jeff Chu, Time Magazine

“I recommend getting a copy of the ‘5 Wishes Living Will,’ which is essentially a living will and health care proxy in one. I like it because it’s written in plain English rather than in legalese.”
—Jean Chatzky, NBC News

“‘Five Wishes’ Living Will Aims to Help Families Prepare for the End of Life: The document, written in reader-friendly language, is aimed at prompting people to talk with their families and doctors about something most choose not to talk about: their own death.  With the help of an intensive care unit nurse and a hospital chaplain, Towey drafted a new document that became the basis of the Five Wishes advance directive. The goal is to prompt a conversation among families that is less morbid and less medical than it normally sounds to people contemplating their own death.”
—Don Colburn, The Washington Post

Living Will from Florida Goes Nationwide: “An innovative living will that goes beyond medical questions to deal with personal, emotional and spiritual issues is going nationwide after it was successfully pioneered in Florida.”
—Frank Davies, The Miami Herald

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Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 Wealth Management, Wealth Preservation

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Five Wishes is a legally-valid tool you can use to ensure your wishes and those of your loved ones will be respected even if you can't speak for yourself. Five Wishes helps you express how you want to be treated if you are seriously ill and unable to speak for yourself. It deals with all of a person's needs: medical, personal, emotional and spiritual. Let your family and doctors know your Five Wishes!

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Five Wishes is changing the way America talks about and plans for care at the end of life. More than 12 million copies of Five Wishes are in circulation across the nation, distributed by more than 15,000 organizations. Five Wishes meets the legal requirements in 40 states and is useful in all 50. Five Wishes has become America’s most popular living will because it is written in everyday language and helps start and structure important conversations about care in times of serious illness.