When it comes to preparing an advance directive, there are many things to think about and options available. Speak with your physician and loved ones about your plans. For general information about Advance Directives see our article "Advance Healthcare Directives Making Decisions About Your Future Medical Care."

Wish #5 lets you share whatever you would like to convey to your loved ones. There may be things you want to disclose or explain. You may want to make sure people know how much you love and appreciate them. It may be important to you to acknowledge, validate, apologize to, or forgive specific individuals.

Wish #4 provides a chance for you to really spell out how you would like to be treated while ill or dying. You can identify people you would like to be with you during your illness or when you are close to death. You can list items you would like to have around you at that time, such as family photos, memorabilia from your favorite sports team, music playing that you have selected in advance, etc. You also can voice your preference to die at home or in a health care setting.

Wish #3 addresses comfort and pain management issues. You are able to clearly document your desires about the pain relief measures you desire should you be in a condition that keeps you from expressing your preferences. Today, all levels of pain can be treated, minimized, or eliminated. Wish #3 also tackles personal care and hygiene issues.

Wish #2 gives you the opportunity to provide guidance about the levels of medical attention you want or do not want in different situations. Examples of health conditions that may come up are included in the document to encourage discussion about various medical treatments and interventions.

Wish #1 allows you to name the person you want to make medical and other decisions for you when you are not able to make them for yourself.  

Your "Five Wishes"

If you could have five wishes granted, what would they be? Today, you might ask for anything from health and happiness to millions of dollars, a new home, a yacht or your adult child meeting the man or woman of his/her dreams. But, what if you could have five wishes related to the kind of care you would like to receive if you were seriously ill or dying?

An advance directive document called “Five Wishes” allows you to spell out exactly how you would like things to play out if you are very ill, incapacitated, or dying and unable to express your desires. Five wishes is rather unique when compared to other more traditional advance directives. Not only does Five Wishes help you address the medical and legal issues commonly associated with illness and dying in a very personal way, the document also tackles the often even more difficult issues related to family dynamics, spirituality, pain and comfort measures, and emotional suffering.

Five Wishes is a legal document you fill out. The easy-to-read, easy-to-understand, and easy-to-complete form allows you to customize your answers and write instructions in your own voice.

There are five questions/wishes to consider, each targeting a specific topic and preference. The questions/wishes provide bullet points to help you address important issues and explain exactly how you would like the issues to be dealt with by your agent (the person you select to make health care decisions for you when you are not able to do so). If you agree with a bullet point, you leave it as is. If you disagree with a bullet point, you simply cross it out. Space also is provided to write about your wishes in more detail, such as any specific instructions you may want to share with your agent, family, and physician.

Once the Five Wishes document is filled out, signed, and witnessed, it becomes valid under the laws of most states. There are some states where the Five Wishes document does not meet the legal requirements for an advance directive. In these cases, the document must be attached to whatever forms are required by that state. It is vital to follow the laws that apply in your state. Five Wishes takes effect only when you are unable to communicate your wishes on your own.

"Five Wishes" is available from the non-profit organization Aging With Dignity (visit http://www.agingwithdignity.org/). Aging With Dignity originally offered Five Wishes free of charge, but now a small fee is required to cover production costs. Five Wishes is protected by copyright. It is a violation of U.S. law to make a copy of the blank original.

If You Could Have "Five Wishes"


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