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Aging with Dignity Celebrates National Healthcare Decisions Day
Date:4/10/2009

- Encourage states to allow citizens to use their own words, not government forms, to express their health care wishes; "Five Wishes" living will is a national resource for advance care planning -

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., April 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Aging with Dignity, a national non-profit organization that created and distributes the Five Wishes living will, joins with thousands of other organizations nationwide on April 16th to encourage Americans to complete an advance directive on National Healthcare Decisions Day. An advance directive - also called a living will - designates the person to whom you grant legal authority to make health care decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself. It also directs the person in life support treatment options, allowing you to state what you want or don't want.

Surveys show only about one in five Americans has completed an advance directive, even though everyone over age 18 should. People often don't follow through because many advance directive forms are written in confusing medical and legal jargon.

"Many of the forms are so confusing they inhibit the very family discussions essential to making the decisions," Aging with Dignity President, Paul Malley said. Malley said a handful of states, particularly Ohio and Texas, make it even more difficult for residents to complete advance directives by requiring lengthy Miranda-like warnings and even specifying the physical appearance of the documents to use. Other states, including Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Nevada and New Hampshire, have burdensome statutory provisions. People whose primary language is not English face even more difficulty.

Malley said Five Wishes is written in everyday language and deals with issues of comfort, dignity, forgiveness and family relationships, in addition to medical and legal matters. It meets the legal requirements of at least 40 states and is used in all 50 to help plan in advance of a serious illness. More than 12 million copies are in national circulation, distributed by more than 15,000 partner organizations. Five Wishes is also available in 23 languages and in Braille.

"Five Wishes is the closest thing there is to a truly national living will," Malley said.

Complete information on advance directives and Five Wishes is available at www.agingwithdignity.org, or at (888) 5-WISHES. Many local partner organizations across America will be hosting Five Wishes events during National Healthcare Decisions Day.


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SOURCE Aging With Dignity
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