National Healthcare Decisions Day is observed annually on April 16th and is aimed at increasing the number of Americans who have completed an advance directive (“living will”), in which they name the person who will make medical decisions for them in the event they are seriously ill or injured and can’t speak for themselves. Experts say only about 20-30% of Americans have completed an advance directive even though all people age 18 and older should have one.
“It’s understandable that people would put off discussing the topic of serious illness and death, but it’s essential to have this family conversation in advance,” Cathy Newhouse, CEO Hospice Home Care said. “It’s a discussion that should take place in the living room, not in the hospital waiting room when it may be too late.”
Newhouse said Hospice Home Care has already provided 10,000 copies of Aging with Dignity’s Five Wishes this year to individuals throughout Arkansas and Mississippi. Five Wishes is America’s most popular advance care planning program with more than 30 million copies of its advance directive in national circulation. The 12-page document is easy to use and deals with personal, family and spiritual matters in addition to medical and legal concerns. Five Wishes is also a valuable tool for beginning often difficult family discussions. It meets the legal requirements of 42 states (including Arkansas and Mississippi) and is useful in those states that still require state forms and mandatory notices. Five
Wishes is available in 29 languages in order to address the diverse cultural needs of the community.
“Five Wishes deals with the things people say matter most to them,” Aging with Dignity President Paul Malley said. “It allows them to clearly state what kind of treatment they want or don’t want so their families aren’t left to guess or second-guess.”
Founded in 1996, Aging with Dignity is a national non-profit organization that seeks to protect the God-given human dignity of the most vulnerable among us. Five Wishes was created with help from national legal experts, with initial development and distribution funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
To learn more about Five Wishes, and receive a copy for yourself, call Hospice Home Care at 1-844-558-4100, or send us a message through the Contact Us page to request a copy.