Monday, June 27, 2011

Five Wishes: The Path to Peace of Mind

I recently attended an enlightening seminar at our local library called Five Wishes, presented by Aging with Dignity. Five Wishes is an easy-to-read legal document that lets adults express how they want to be treated in case they become seriously ill and are unable to speak for themselves.

Five Wishes has become America’s leading living will because it speaks to all of a person’s needs: medical, personal, emotional, and spiritual. The document also provides an excellent prompt for family discussions.

The eleven-page document covers every aspect a person needs to consider when creating a living will. It’s easy to use with places to check a box, circle a direction, write a few sentences, or cross out a section. Once signed and witnessed, it becomes a legal document in most states.

Following are the topics covered in Five Wishes:

Wish 1 – The Person I Want to Make Health Care Decisions for Me When I Can’t Make Them for Myself -- Includes suggestions on how to select the proper person to handle these decisions. The form provides a place to name the Health Care Agent and list contact information.

Wish 2 – My Wish for the Kind of Medical Treatment I Want or Don’t Want --
Discusses what life support means specifically to that individual and the various ramifications of a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order.

Wish 3 – My Wish for How Comfortable I Want to be -- Itemizes the various personal acts you want performed on your behalf.

Wish 4 – My Wish for How I Want People to Treat Me – Discusses who you want with you, such as only family only , who to notify that you’re ill, whether or not you’d like prayers said on your behalf.

Wish 5 – My Wish for What I Want My Loved Ones to Know -- Expresses personal desires of lasting memories to be left with family and friends, such as expressions of love and forgiveness. Also discusses the disposition of the deceased’s body.

Five Wishes discusses issues many people find hard to communicate, all in a matter-of-fact, thorough manner.

For more information and to order Five Wishes, visit

Monday, June 13, 2011

Book Review: Olive Kitteridge

Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge (Random House) is a masterpiece in describing human behavior. The constant in the book, Olive, storms through people’s lives, concerned, condemning, critical. Those whose lives she touches have a variety of opinions, but most see her as intelligent, fearless and daunting. But no one really knows Olive.

Olive Kitteridge takes a glimpse of thirteen different characters, all with their own unique stories. A few stories touch on a younger Olive, but mostly the characters relate to her later years. In a few quick strokes, the author lays people’s lives bare, their secrets exposed. Olive weaves a binding thread, showing how our life-forces bind us to one another.

Olive’s caustic personality, though often humorous, sometimes made me cringe. She is a person I’d love to know, but I’m not sure I’d have the nerve to maintain a friendship.

Olive Kitteridge is a compelling book, full of surprises.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Don't Invite the Bad Guys

It’s vacation time and a time when your home is most vulnerable. Our local Windermere Real Estate furnished an excellent home safety checklist:

Make plans for the porch Even if you stop mail and newspaper delivery, you still might have other people call on you and leave notes or fliers, even packages. Ask a trusted neighbor to stop by to collect whatever may be there.

Hire out the yard work If you’ll be gone for an extended period of time, hire someone to mow the lawn and water the plants.

Install multiple timers Install automatic on/off timers on multiple lights, a radio or television. Some timers even let you vary the schedule. Step out onto your porch to test the volume of your radio, making sure it can be heard (but don’t make it obviously loud).

Put a car in the driveway If you’re leaving a car behind, park it in the driveway instead of the garage. Or, if you don’t have a second car, ask a neighbor to park there while you’re gone.

Silence the phone Turn off the ringer for your phone, or have your calls forwarded.

Take care of the trash If you must leave your trash out for collection, ask a neighbor to carry the trash cans back afterward.

Alert the neighbors Even if you don’t need the help of your neighbors, be sure to let them know what days you’ll be gone and if you’re expecting anyone to drop by.

Following these precautions will ensure you a more relaxed vacation and a pleasant home-coming.