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Getting Started with Advance Care Planning

nurse with older man filling out forms

There is no one way to get started with Advance Care Planning – a process of deciding what treatments you would or would not want if you were ill or injured and no longer able to make those decisions for yourself. And, it is a process that includes choosing who you want to make those decisions for you.

You may know what choices you would make but have no idea about who you’d like to make choices for you if you cannot do so. Or, you may know who you want to speak for you but you are not sure what you would want.

In any case, all the information you need to get started is here:

  • Advance Directives - An Advance Directive is a legal form that helps your doctors and loved ones understand your wishes about medical and mental health care and make decisions about your care, if you are not able to make decisions for yourself.
  • Choosing a Person to Make Decisions - Part of the Advance Care Planning process involves choosing a person to make decisions for you if you were not able to do so. This person is called your Health Care Agent.
  • Talking with Loved Ones - Tips and resources for talking with loved ones about what is important to you when making medical decisions.
  • Help Setting Health Care Goals - Healthcare providers or social workers can help setting health care goals. Palliative Care and Hospice Care can work with you to meet those goals.
  • Group Visits - VA offers interactive groups where Veterans and caregivers can join their peers to learn more about the process of planning for future health care needs.
  • Other Types of Advance Care Planning - These include DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment), MOLST (Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) and Organ and Tissue Donation.
  • More Resources - Helpful websites, forms and workbooks.

This two-page handout provides information on Advance Care Planning and has a Values Worksheet on the back.

Advance Care Planning Worksheet


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