Living Wills: Baby Boomers Encouraged to Start Thinking About End of Life Decisions

Most people do not have a living will, although the documents are easy to obtain and can save your loved ones a tremendous amount of grief and uncertainty.

The very public family fight over Terri Schiavo grabbed the nation’s attention.

In 2005, the Five Wishes Foundation sent out over two million booklets designed to help people put their final wishes in writing. This year, the requests have dwindled to about 700,000.

"It’s that subject that nobody wants to touch with a ten foot pole and some of that has changed,” said Aging with Dignity President Paul Malley. “The Schiavo case helped that because it put it on the minds of a lot of people."

The Five Wishes Foundation is now 10 years old.

Founder Jim Towey says as baby boomers reach retirement, putting your final wishes in writing has never been more important.

"You want to prevent those kinds of tragedies as opposed to finding yourself mired in the middle of one where there’s so much pain," he said.

French, Croatian, traditional Chinese; Five Wishes is now available in 20 different languages for non-English speaking patients in this country. The translations are the result of a nearly 200,000 dollar grant from the Evercare Hospice Foundation.

Dr. Mark Leenay of the Evercare Foundation said, "A lot of the patients we serve have expressed the need to put their wishes in writing and when they don’t speak English it’s difficult to do. It requires a lot of time with the translator."

Terri Schiavo never put her final wishes in writing, which shows that it is never too early to begin thinking about the end.

You can receive a copy of the Five Wishes Living Will by calling 1-888-594-7437.