Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Five Wishes for Living and Dying

We have been told over and over about making a will and having a healthcare proxy and medical power-of-attorney. Often we put off taking this important step because 1. It makes us think about death, but 2. It makes us think about our relationships with family and friends.

In choosing an executor, proxy or power-of-attorney we face hard facts about who we trust, who we share values with and the relationships with those who might expect to represent us but we’d rather not. Tricky emotional business. So we see another movie, read another article about Vitamin D and think about retirement in a sunny place.

But really. If it’s hard to think about your death then think about the torture for your kids and friends when they have to sort things out or worst, guess at your medical preferences. It’s not just that paperwork after all but the conversations you must have with those you designate. You have to tell them—more than once --if you want lots of lifesaving measures, none at all, or maybe a little bit of whatever the latest strategies are.

Recently a friend introduced me to a new and quite comfortable way of going about this recording and conversing. It’s called “Five Wishes” and it’s a simple mini workbook that lets you write down these five things:

The person I want to make decisions when I can’t
The kind of medical treatment I want or don’t want.
How comfortable I want to be.
How I want people to treat me.
What I want my loved ones to know.

I’ll put the link below to the Five Wishes website so you can learn more but just think about those five items listed above. If you have been a caregiver or a waiter in a hospital waiting room, wouldn’t you have loved to know some of that from the patient—beforehand? Give your loved ones that gift.

The mini Five Wishes workbook—or just those questions listed above also make a great family dinner conversation, an add on to your book group, and definitely something to bring up when your doctor says, “So do you have any other questions?”

Here’s the link to learn more:

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