Five Wishes, America’s most popular living will, is changing the way people talk about, and plan for, care at the end of life. More than 18 million copies of Five Wishes are in circulation across the nation, distributed by more than 35,000 organizations. This document meets the legal requirements in 42 states, including New Jersey, and is useful in all 50.
Five Wishes is written in everyday language and helps people express their wishes in areas that matter most — the personal and spiritual in addition to the medical and legal. It also helps you describe what good care means to you, whether you are seriously ill or not. It allows your caregiver to know exactly what you want.
Five Wishes lets your family and doctors know:
Completing Five Wishes is a gift to your family, friends, and your doctor, because it keeps them out of the difficult position of having to guess what kind of treatment you want or don’t want.
Families also use the Five Wishes living will document to help start and guide family conversations about care in times of serious illness. Five Wishes is helpful for all adults over the age of 18* and anyone can start the conversation within a family. Sometimes it begins with grandparents and other times it is the younger family members who bring up the topic. (*My Wishes is available for pediatric patients and Voicing My Choices is available for adolescents.)
Regardless of your age, you can bring this gift to your family.
Is Five Wishes a legal living will document?
Yes. It meets the legal requirements for an advance directive in 42 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. In the other eight states your completed Five Wishes can be attached to your state’s required form. Five Wishes is legal in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
Why should I complete Five Wishes?
A living will, like Five Wishes, is a way for you to give consent for certain situations where you might want or not want treatment. You can appoint someone to make decisions for you, if you can’t do so for yourself. It gives you a better chance of having your wishes carried out, when you can’t speak for yourself.
When is the best time to complete Five Wishes?
The best time is before you need it. Everyone, at any age, should think about making an advance directive.
How will my doctor know that I filled out Five Wishes?
Once you finished filling out Five Wishes, talk about it with your doctor. Also tell people close to you that you have it and where it’s kept (not locked up where no one can find it!). Give copies to your healthcare agent, family members, and friends.
Can I change my advance directive?
Yes, at any time while you are competent to do so. In fact, it’s recommended to do so every 10 years or if you have a major health change, family change, or experience the death of a loved one.
What is life-sustaining medical treatment?
Life-sustaining medical treatment is anything mechanical or artificial that sustains, restores, or substitutes for a vital body function and would prolong the dying process for a terminally ill patient. Examples include: CPR, artificial respiration like a ventilator, dialysis, among others.
What is a “do not resuscitate” order?
Do Not Resuscitate, or DNR, is an order written by a doctor telling the healthcare team taking care of you that CPR is not to be used if your heart or breathing stops.