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The 6 Steps in Setting up your 5 Wishes

The 5 wishes are your voice if you are unable to speak for yourself due to an injury, accident or disease progression.

1. Learn what the 5 wishes are

  • They let your loved ones and your medical team know what your care should look like. You can simply fill out the 5 wishes packet, or you can add as much detail as you want regarding your care, and your wishes around dying.

  • It covers details about your wishes around your spiritual, emotional and comfort care in addition to your medical care.

  • The decision made in The 5 Wishes can be changed or rescinded at any time so that you are not bound to the original document.

2. Understand why the 5 wishes are important

  • It makes decision making clear for everyone even in a time of crisis and fear.

  • It is a gift to your loved ones so that they do not have the burden of decision making

  • It allows you to die with dignity and have your voice heard even if you are no longer able to use it

3. Find out how the 5 wishes work

  • Once filled out, The 5 Wishes is legally valid in all states. Some states have additional steps, such as notarization, but your original document will be valid when traveling.

  • You do not need a lawyer or a doctor to fill out or sign the packet.

  • The packet is a legal document.

  • If you are in an accident or your health declines to a point where you cannot appropriately make decisions for yourself (Alzheimer’s for example), your health care decision maker can use this packet to enact your wishes. They can also hand this packet over to the medical team so that they also know how best to treat you while receiving medical care even at the end of life.

  • This will ensure you have everything you might want (within the best of your team's ability to make happen) including spiritual guides, music, loved ones, pain meds, hygiene, location for end of life care etc.

4. Get ahold of a 5 wishes packet

  • Order your 5 wishes packet from a supplier such as for $5

  • You may want to order several copies so that you can make one a version you edit and then have a clean copy. You may also want an extra copy in case your wishes change and you would like to rewrite your packet.

5. Fill out your packet

  • Ask someone with knowledge of disease processes and emotional processing of trauma and disease, such as a Nurse Coach to help you understand and make the right decisions for you. Some of the decisions will be easy and others will take some time to think about. It is wise to utilize an expert who knows the right questions to ask you to make sure you understand the long term effects and consequences of each choice and make sure each decision is right for you.

  • Set aside time to really go over each section of the packet. This process can take a while, so you may need to set aside a few hours or even do the processes in a few different sessions.

  • You will need 2 unbiased parties who will not benefit from any medical decision being made on your behalf to sign the packet. They are confirming that you filled the packet out on your own accord, and that these really are your wishes without anyone else pressuring you into a choice.

6. Save and use your packet

  • Your medical decision maker will be able to use The 5 Wishes with your doctors in case you are not alert or oriented enough to tell the medical team what you would like.

  • Once you fill out your packet, you will need to

    • Make copies

    • Keep one in a safe and easy to access place at home

    • Send one to your doctor

    • Send one to your Medical Decision Maker


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