Don’t put off the conversation. Make your wishes known.

By Community Services at Parrish Medical Center

It can happen in the blink of an eye. One day you’re playing tennis with a friend and the next you’re in a coma after a car accident. Or Sunday you’re playing with your grandchild and Monday you have a stroke that leaves you paralyzed and unable to speak.

Maybe you have Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, diabetes, COPD, or another chronic condition. You can usually maintain your health by working with your healthcare provider, but sadly, there is no cure for these diseases.

No one wants to think about the end of his or her life. But, you’ve probably thought about what you do — and do not — want if you become incapacitated and can’t speak for yourself.

Have you shared your wishes with anyone else?

Parrish Medical Center’s Palliative Care Program, with the help of a grant from the Jess Parrish Medical Foundation, uses Five Wishes to give you a voice when you no longer have one. Five Wishes is a product of Aging with Dignity. When you complete the Five Wishes booklet, you can have the dignity you deserve — and your wishes followed—at the end of your life.

What do you want?

Five Wishes is written in everyday language and helps you express your wishes about the personal, spiritual, medical, and legal areas of your life. All adults, no matter their age or physical condition, should make their wishes known. After all, it only takes the blink of an eye for your circumstances to change.

Five Wishes helps your family and doctors know:

  • Who you want to make healthcare decisions for you when you can’t make them yourself. Have you talked with this person? Have they agreed to be your healthcare surrogate?
  • The kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want if you become incapacitated. Do you want pain medications even if that means you will be drowsy or sleep more than you would otherwise?
  • How comfortable you want to be. Do you want your lips and mouth kept moist to stop dryness? Do you want your favorite music to be played when possible?
  • How you want people to treat you if you can no longer voice your wishes. Do you want people with you when possible? Do you want someone to hold your hand and talk to you even if you don’t seem to respond?
  • What you want your loved ones to know at the end of your life. What kind of memorial service would you like when you pass away? How do you want to be remembered?

Only 29 percent of the population has a living will, and many of those are out of date. Or they are locked away in a safe deposit box where no one can get to them.

Palliative Care at Parrish Medical Center helps people with serious and chronic illnesses, not just those who are in their final stage of life. The palliative care coordinator also leads community events, called Fearless Café, to help start the conversation about end-of-life issues using Five Wishes.

Don’t put off the conversation. Share your Five Wishes with your loved ones.

Five Wishes Event:
Call Palliative Care Coordinator Terry Donavan, RN,  at (321) 268-6675 for more information about upcoming Five Wishes events, or go online to