Planning Ahead For The End Of Your Life

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
An Advance Directive Seminar entitled “Five Wishes,” was held at the Senior Center in Warsaw, April 17, from 9 AM to 12 PM. The free seminar is one of the services provided by Care Connection throughout the year to help people document their medical treatment wishes for end of life.
Dee Locke from Care Connection gave two identical presentations to accommodate attendees arriving at different times. Reba Slavins, Director of Social Services with the Warsaw Health and Rehabilitation, provided notary services to those who filled out an Advance Directive form after listening to a presentation.
“The Advance Directive is not a “will,” said Locke. A will is a legal document regarding property, and the Advance Directive relates to medical treatment. There are different forms used for Advance Directives,” said Locke. “Hospitals use Living Wills and the State of Missouri has its own form. But, Care Connection uses the form called Five Wishes because it offers the opportunity to write additional input. This document has sections to fill out concerning 1) The Person I Want to Make Care Decisions for Me When I Can’t; 2) The Kind of Medical Treatment I Want or Don’t Want; 3) How Comfortable I Want to Be; 4) How I Want People to Treat Me; 5) What I Want My Loved Ones to Know.”
Locke said the Five Wishes Advance Directive allows a person to state what treatments they want or do not want. It gives such choices as to the comfort level a person desires, whether he or she wants ventilation, and whether comfort without prolonging life is desired. It can be used to tell what kind of funeral ceremony is desired and what pictures should be shown. The form also has a section to write down a first and second choice for a trusted care agent who will know the decisions a person wants carried at the end of their life.
“Anyone 18 or older should be filling out one of these forms,” said Locke. “Young adults might have a need for this documentation after a car accident, or other unexpected injury or illness. The Advance Directive can be changed as needed, as long as the new one is notarized.”
Valda Bolling, of Warsaw attended the seminar to see if there are any updates needed for the Advance Directive she already has. She said that this is the first time she has heard about the Five Wishes form.
Vera McBride, of Warsaw, said she didn’t have an Advance Directive, but wanted to document her last wishes concerning medical treatment.  She was taking care of someone close to her who died recently without his wishes being carried out. And she wants to make sure  her last wishes are taken seriously.
Marlow Westerbeck said he and his wife had an old will concerning property, but nothing concerning end of life medical wishes. After his sister unexpectedly lost two of her family members,  it made him and his wife realize they needed to get their house in order. Filling out an Advance Directive is one of the important documents they want to have available for their children.
Some of the seminar attendees filled out the Five Wishes Advance Directive after the presentation. Others took the form home to think about it and work on it. Those who need to turn it in later, who need help filling it out, or those who did not attend the seminar may can go to the Warsaw Senior Center at a later time and see Dee Locke. She will ensure that the form is completed and that a notary is available to finalize the document.
Locke suggested several copies should be made of a notarized Advance Directive. One copy should be given to the health care agent, one should be kept in the glove compartment of your vehicle, and others can go to Doctor’s offices, or hospitals. She said that for those who travel out of state, the form should be taken with them, and it should be legal in another state as long as the home address is still in Missouri.
The website for CaringIno reports that before an Advance Directive can guide medical decision-making, two physicians must certify the concerned patient is unable to make medical decisions, and is in the medical condition specified in the state’s living will law (such as “terminal illness” or “permanent unconsciousness,” and other requirements may apply depending on the state.) Also, if a person regains the ability to make decisions, the agent cannot continue to act on the person’s behalf.