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Senior Citizen's Guide to Pittsburgh
A "Living Will with Heart"

Did you know that a new Pennsylvania law now determines who could be making your end-of-life care decisions if you do not have a living will or health care agent?

The new law clearly defines a chain-of-command within a patient's family.  While that is sufficient for most families, there are those occasions where family members may disagree about what their loved one might want.  Having a living will and choosing a health care agent can take the guesswork out of making tough medical decisions for your family and could help avoid heartache if members of the family disagree about what should be done.  For more information about the new Pennsylvania law, visit

The best time to fill out a living will is before you are faced with a health crisis.  If you don't have a living will, you might consider using a document called, "The Five Wishes."  Considered a "living will with heart", it is an easy-to-complete booklet that lets you say exactly what you want.  Once it is filled out and properly signed, it is valid under the laws of most states—including Pennsylvania.

There are many things in life that are out of our hands.  "The Five Wishes" booklet gives you a way to control something very important—how you are treated if you get seriously ill.

Featured on NBC's Today Show, CNN, The Washington Post and USA Today, "The Five Wishes" has helped more than 7 million people document their wishes for end-of-life care.  Many Americans are choosing this document instead of a basic living will document because it addresses not only their medical issues, but also their personal and spiritual issues as well.  One of the nice things about "The Five Wishes" document is that it is not written using confusing medical and legal jargon and most people can fill it out on their own.

Dying is one of the few events in life certain to occur--and yet one we are not likely to plan for.  We plan diligently for retirement.  Yet about a third of Americans bankrupt their families in the process of dying. Sometimes they don't want all the IVs and monitors and bills yet suffer them anyway. Even today, almost 40 years after the first living will was written in the U.S. to prevent over treatment, Americans' dying wishes are not being honored and often are not even known.

"The Five Wishes" document hopes to help change that.  It addresses the following:

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