In 2010, the Associated Press found less than 30 percent of Americans reported having an advance directive, yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a 2005 study found nearly 70 percent of Americans die in a hospital, nursing home or long-term-care facility, and only 25 percent die at home.
Concerns about care at the end of life are as unique as the individual receiving the care, but we commonly defer to loved ones and health care providers hoping beyond hope that they will instinctively know how to carry out our wishes. This shifting of onus can wreak havoc on survivors’ well-being, negatively impacting relationships and finances well beyond the loss of a loved one.
One way to navigate complex issues is by using The Five Wishes® materials. Inspired by the work of Mother Theresa, this document:
- Is written in everyday language;
- Promotes peace of mind, off-setting guesswork and guilt;
- Gets you the care you want and deserve.
The Five Wishes® program helps people express their final wishes in five important areas:
- Who Will Be My Health Care Agent?
- Medical Treatments I Do or Do Not Want
- My Expectations for Comfort Care
- How I Want People to Treat Me
- What I Want My Loved Ones to Know
It meets the legal requirements for an advance directive in 42 states (including Florida) and the District of Columbia.
Even if patients have an advance directive, physicians or loved ones may not know about it. According to a 2007 study published in the Critical Care Journal, only 25 percent of physicians knew that their patients had advance directives on file. After you have completed your Five Wishes®:
- Provide one to each of your health care providers and loved ones;
- Discuss your wishes;
- Keep it readily available in your home;
- Carry your wallet card.
Learning about the end of life helps empower people to plan in ways that will afford them dignity and peace of mind in the end. To learn more about exploring end-of-life concerns visit: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_series_eole . This series of publications helps individuals and families begin to determine their own futures through meaningful communication and informed planning.