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Advance Care Planning

About Advance Care Planning

Advance care planning is a way of planning ahead for your future healthcare choices in case you become unable to do so. Think about the types of medical therapies you would choose to have, or not have, if you were very sick or injured and not able to communicate.

Advance directive

Think about creating an advance directive. This is a legal form that helps your doctors and loved ones know your wishes about your healthcare. This would be used if you were not able to make decisions for yourself. A living will and health care agent (durable power of attorney for health care) are types of advance directives. A health care agent is a person you choose to make medical treatment decisions for you.

If you need help completing an advance directive, ask to meet with your social worker. The social worker can give you the VA Advance Directive form. You can also go to to find the form and more information.

Other types of advance care planning

If you have questions about other types of advance care planning, talk with your healthcare provider. Other types can include organ and tissue donation. They can also include a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form. If you are dealing with a life-threatening illness, you may want to find out more about your choices.

Podcasts on advance care planning

The VA offers a series of podcasts on advance care planning. The series, called Dialed In, includes the following titles:

  • What’s an advance directive, and why should I complete one?

  • Choosing a health care agent

  • I’ve been chosen as a health care agent - now what?

  • Informed consent empowers veterans

  • Setting healthcare goals when you're seriously ill

  • Would CPR be right for me? 

Click here to listen to the podcasts. You will also find a wealth of information on advance care planning, including a Dialed In User Guide for patients, forms, and worksheets.

For more information about advance care planning, go to Geriatrics and Extended Care.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 8/1/2020
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