VA Caregiver Support Program
Advance Care Planning
Advance Care Planning
Advanced care planning allows you to make your health care wishes known and to assign someone you trust to make medical decisions for you if you are not able. An advanced directive is a tool to document your wishes
Benefits of Advanced Care Planning:
– Allows you to have a voice in your medical care when you cannot speak for yourself.
– Caregivere or family members will not be burdened by being unsure of what you want medically.
– Distressed and emotional caregivers or family members can avoid the conflict of decision making, and can be there to support you and one another.
– Discussing these important topics can bring people closer by improving understanding of your values and wishes
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has excellent resources for Veterans, caregivers, and family members for advance care planning. Visit VA’s Making Decisions: Advance Care Planning website for more information.
Here are a few things you should know about advance care planning:
- Advance care planning is the process of thinking about and communicating your healthcare wishes in advance of a medical crisis. It involves talking with the important people in your life about your values, goals, and preferences for care. As a caregiver, you can help the Veteran you provide care for navigate this process by encouraging them to think about their healthcare wishes and helping them document their preferences.
- One of the most important roles you can play as a caregiver is to help your Veteran make informed healthcare decisions. You can also help your loved one communicate their healthcare wishes to their VA healthcare providers and ensure that those wishes are respected.
Advance care planning is an ongoing process. It’s important to revisit the healthcare wishes of both you and your Veteran regularly and update the advance directive as needed.
Advance Care Planning Resources:
- Starting the Conversation: Advanced Care Planning (PDF)
- Understanding Long-Term Care Options (PDF)
- Educational Handout: What You Should Know About Advance Directives (PDF)
- Worksheet: Mental Health Care Preferences (DOC) - (Attach to your VA Advance Directive Form. Initial and date each page)
- Podcast: What's An Advance Directive, and Why Should I Complete One? (6:35)
- Podcast: Choosing A Health Care Agent (5:36)
- Podcast: I’ve Been Chosen as A Health Care Agent – Now What? (4:50)
- YouTube: What Matters Most? Supporting You with Advance Care Planning
- Workbook: Planning for Future Health Care Decisions (PDF)
- Website: Geriatrics & Extended Care - Advance Care Planning https://www.va.gov/geriatrics/pages/advance_care_planning_topics.asp
- Website: Social Work - National Advance Care Planning via Group Visits (ACP-GV) Program: https://www.socialwork.va.gov/ACP_GV.asp
- Website: Social Work - Directory of ACP-GV Site Leads: https://www.socialwork.va.gov/ACP-GV_Site_Leads.asp
- Website: VA life insurance: https://www.va.gov/life-insurance/
- Website: VA burial benefits and memorial items: https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/
- Website: VA National Cemetery Administration - Resources Guide: https://www.cem.va.gov/resources.asp
- Website: NIA Caregiving- Advance Care Planning*: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/topics/advance-care-planning
Every adult over the age of 18 should take some time to consider the difficult questions that occur in advance care planning. Still, it is especially critical if they have been diagnosed with a chronic disease. Advance care planning provides documented directions for healthcare providers, caregivers, and family members, that support the patient’s wishes and identifies a person who can advocate for their wishes if they are unable to for themself.
Advance care planning documents are available through VA providers or by visiting Advance Care Planning - Geriatrics and Extended Care. Non-Veterans may also want to visit CaringInfo: Resources for Serious Illness & End-of-Life Care* for more information.