Certified Interfaith Pastoral Counseling, Coaching and Trauma Relief Service


Advance Directive:  Do Not Resuscitate


Facing life (and death) with a plan

It's probably the last taboo topic of discussion in America – serious illness and death. Neither is optional, both are certain and yet many people think and behave as though they will be forever young and in the best of health. At some point reality intrudes and a spouse, parent or grandparent suddenly falls seriously ill and can't make or communicate life-and-death medical decisions for themselves. Instead of the calm quiet of a living room, family members must hurriedly gather in the hospital waiting room and decide what the seriously ill or dying person would or wouldn't have wanted. The discussion can no longer be deferred because a health care provider needs a decision, and now. The TUFF Services Ministries is happy to provide you with this assistance, to ease your way to the best possible care!

Who would want to be in such a position? Who wants to put their spouse or adult children in that position?

People have been urged for many years to plan for times of serious illness and death by completing an advance directive, or “living will,” in which you designate the person who will make those decisions when you can't make them for yourself. Almost all 50 states offer advance directive forms – presumably, to enable the process – but these forms are often written in complicated legal and medical terms that few can readily understand. And none of the forms helps foster the difficult but essential discussion that must come before anybody puts anything in writing.

This was why the organization Aging For Dignity, created the Five Wishes advance directive, to improve this situation when it was introduced nationally in 1997. It has since become very popular because it approaches a difficult topic in a manner that people can relate to. It broadens the discussion from the purely medical and legal into the areas that people say matter most – personal, spiritual and family issues.

There are at least five good reasons to use Five Wishes:

  • It's easy to use: Five Wishes is written in everyday language, not “legalese” and “medicalese.” You check what you do want, cross out what you don't want and add as much or as little additional direction as you want.
  • It's all-encompassing: You designate the person you want to make health care decisions for you when you can't speak for yourself, and you define and specify the kind of life support treatment you want or don't want. Five Wishes also allows you to establish how comfortable you want to be; how you want people to treat you; and what you want your loved ones to know. You can also change it as your situation or thinking changes.
  • It's a discussion guide: Five Wishes also helps start and structure often difficult discussions about uncomfortable topics. The focus of discussion is on protecting human dignity, comfort and personal, spiritual and family concerns.
  • It's legal: Your completed Five Wishes meets the legal requirements of at least 42 states and the District of Columbia. In those states that have statutorily required language, mandatory warnings and forms, Five Wishes can be attached to give health care providers and others a more complete picture of your desires.
  • It brings peace of mind: When Five Wishes is completed, signed and properly witnessed, you have a plan. When you share it with your physician, health care agent, family members and others, everybody's on the same page. Nobody has to guess and second-guess because you've already clearly stated your wishes. Guilty feelings and stressful family conflict are avoided.

Five Wishes has helped drive change within society so that those who are seriously ill or near death have their wishes known and respected. Many physicians, hospitals, health systems and hospices now use Five Wishes. Places of worship, attorneys, financial planners, businesses and organizations of all sizes are also among the 35,000 partner organizations that have distributed more than 18 million copies of Five Wishes nationwide.


Five Wishes lets your family and doctors know:

  • Who you want to make health care decisions for you when you can't make them.
  • The kind of medical treatment you want or don't want.
  • How comfortable you want to be.
  • How you want people to treat you.
  • What you want your loved ones to know.

Five Wishes is changing the way America talks about and plans for care at the end of life. More than 18 million copies of Five Wishes are in circulation across the nation, distributed by more than 35,000 organizations. Five Wishes meets the legal requirements in 42 states and is useful in all 50. (Five Wishes meets Nevada, California and Arizona legal requirements)

Five Wishes has become America’s most popular living will because it is written in everyday language and helps start and structure important conversations about care in times of serious illness.

Five Wishes was introduced in 1997 and originally distributed with support from a grant by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. With assistance from the United Health Foundation, Five Wishes is now available in 27 languages.

The Five Wishes Booklet

To see a complete sample view of the complete "Five Wishes" booklet, please click on the icon to the left. You will be able to see a "PDF" document for your best viewing. 

If you are interested in obtaining a booklet for either yourself or for your family, please contact us at: (702) 769-5994 or complete the e-mail form below. We will get back to you as quickly as possible!

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