Monday, April 11, 2011

Afraid of Talking About End-of-Life? 'Five Wishes' Helps

Talking about end of life issues with your aging parent can be tough. How do you begin? What do you say?

A powerful booklet called "Five Wishes," can help. Jim Towey, who worked with Mother Teresa for 12 years and spent one of those living in a hospice in Washington, DC, wrote "Five Wishes." Recognized by 42 states, "Five Wishes" aims to help people plan for the time when they might be seriously ill.

The booklet has been called a "Living Will With a Heart." Easy to use, and stripped of medical and legal jargon, it has check boxes and blanks to fill in. You can discuss it together with your parent, tackling the wishes in any order.

The Five Wishes deal with naming a health care agent, deciding which medical care someone wants or doesn't want, specifying their preferred comfort measures, deciding how they want to be treated; and determining what they want their loved ones to know when they pass.

At Evergreen Court Retirement Community in Bellevue, Washington, where I work, we had a Five Wishes presentation by Greg Robbins, Social Worker from Providence Hospice of Seattle, a few weeks ago. Besides the residents, adult children, a pastor and other members of the public came. The response was positive.

Do you have experiences with "Five Wishes?" For more information, contact Aging With Dignity.

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