National Healthcare Decisions Day is observed annually April 16 and is aimed at increasing the number of Americans who have completed a living will in which they name a person who will make medical decisions for them in the event they are seriously ill and can’t speak for themselves.
Experts say only about 20 to 30 percent of Americans have completed a living will, also called an advance directive, even though all people age 18 and older should have one.
“It is understandable people would put off discussion the topic of serious illness and death, but it's essential to have this family conversation in advance,” said Hershey Glenn RN, director of services at NHC Homecare. “It’s a discussion that should take place in the living room, not in the hospital waiting room when it may be too late.”
Aging with Dignity with the help of Oregon Health Decisions have developed a program called Five Wishes.
What is Five Wishes? Five Wishes is the first living will that talks about someone’s personal, emotional and spiritual needs as well as their medical wishes. It lets someone choose the person they want to make health care decisions for them if they are no longer able to make them for themselves.
Five Wishes allows someone to say exactly how they wish to be treated if they get seriously ill.
It was written with the help of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging, and the nation’s leading experts in end-of-life care. It is also easy to use, the person will only need to check a box, circle a direction, or write a few sentences.
Five Wishes deals with the things people say that is important and matters to them, it allows someone to clearly say what kind of treatment they want or don’t want so their loved ones are not left to guess and second-guess.
Five wishes is recognize in 42 states, including Tennessee.
If anyone is interested in learning about Five Wishes, please contact Glenn at NHC Homecare or call 473-3872.