During stressful times, many of us wisely choose to defer important decisions so we can gain a sense of perspective in the hope of clearer thinking.
This strategy can be effectively employed in many situations; however, in the case of decisions about medical care, the opportunity to defer decision-making is often not possible. Advance planning is really an opportunity to facilitate an important discussion that can bring peace of mind during these stressful life events.
Since we often see the difficulties that family members experience when decisions are needed and their loved one is no longer able to participate, Hope offers the "Five Wishes" program to all in our community. Our goal is to help facilitate a conversation about our personal and individual choices, in case our family needs to make decisions for us in critical situations. These discussions help everyone to better answer the question, "What should we do now?"
Five Wishes is an easy-to-use guide that provides direction and guidance for our loved ones based on our own personal, emotional and spiritual needs. This advance directives guide - which is provided free to anyone who requests a copy from Hope HealthCare Services - helps each of us address the following considerations for our medical care:
The person I want to make decisions for me when I can't, including choices for care and services, interpreting instructions, consent to admission, and request or take away medical treatments;
The kind of medical treatment I want or don't want, including life-support treatment decisions;
How comfortable I want to be, including treatment of pain and nausea, bathing, massage, music, personal care and spiritual support;
How I want people to treat me, including visitors, personal interactions, sharing information about the illness with members of a congregation or other group, and photos at the bedside; and
What I want my loved ones to know, including a request to respect your wishes, how you would like your loved ones to interact with each other, who to turn to for your final wishes and other important end-of-life decisions that are best made by you.
Five Wishes, which is available to anyone 18 or older, has already been used by more than 18 million people as a tool to foster communication about wishes. After discussing the questions - and your preferences - with your loved ones, you will simply record the information and add your signature; the Five Wishes document is valid under the laws of most states.
You'll want to let someone you trust know that it's completed and where it will be kept. You may also consider sharing your wishes with your clergy, doctor or other care providers.
Hope HealthCare Services is ready to provide copies of Five Wishes to you, family members, friends, civic group members, congregations and other individuals and organizations.
And if Five Wishes is the right guide for you, please consider having the conversation with those you love.
Having a conversation with loved ones about Five Wishes is a gift that we each can give to ourselves and share with those we care about most.
Make this year's National Healthcare Decisions Day - celebrated on April 16 - a meaningful opportunity to give peace of mind. Please visit us online at HopeHCS.org or call toll-free 855-454-3100.
Samira K. Beckwith is President and CEO of Hope HealthCare Services, a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3)-status community-based agency offering programs and services in Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Hendry, Glades, and DeSoto counties.