Terri Schiavo's Death Inspires Many to Create Living Wills

One of the biggest and lasting impacts her story has had on families is in the creation of more living wills.

A Florida-based company that publishes the Five Wishes Living Will has distributed millions of copies since her death. Employees at Aging With Dignity could barely keep up with demand for their Five Wishes Living Will in the days and weeks after the battle over Terri Schiavo became so public.

Company president Paul Malley says suddenly it seemed like everyone was talking about the type of care they would and wouldn’t want if they became unable to care for themselves.

"Many people sat down in their living rooms, asked their spouses what would you want in that situation. They were surprised by the response and they thought we’d better write that down,” Malley explains.

The requests poured in from people wishing to spare their own families the difficult decisions Terri’s family was grappling with as many as 6,000 calls and e-mails a day.

Since the Schiavo case, Aging With Dignity has gotten requests for the Five Wishes document from as far away as Israel and China. They’re still getting about 100 requests a day.

Kenna Moody works at Aging With Dignity. She says she filled out a Five Wishes Living Will well before she’d ever heard of Terri Schiavo. But the painful fight between Terri’s loved ones made her even more glad she did for her children’s sake.

"I don’t want them to ever have the guilty, any leftover feelings of worrying that they did or didn’t do, something that I would have wanted,” says Moody.

Aging With Dignity has filled requests for two million of the Five Wishes Living Wills since Terri died, double the amount it received in previous years.

Florida law allows you to write your wishes down for types of care you would want if you were incapacitated on an ordinary sheet of paper, as long as it is signed and dated by two witnesses.

If you would like more information about the Five Wishes form, call toll-free 1-888-5-WISHES.