Advanced Care Planning & the VA Caregiving Summit

On June 24th, 2021, I had the opportunity take part in the 2nd Annual VA Caregiver Summit “Inclusive Care: Empowering and Engaging Family Caregivers as Partners in Care”. This was a fantastic event put together on behalf of the “Puget Sound VA Caregiver Support Program”. The event covered a range of topics that were useful to caregivers and service providers.

The topic that resonated the most with me was a presentation by Dr. David Brecher titled “Advanced Care Planning: What, When and Why”. This is a topic that is not often talked about until an “accident” or “life event” happens which usually results in a trip to the ER or hospital.

Advanced Care Planning forms specify the types of medical treatment that one desires as they age and may not be able to make decisions for by themselves. Advanced Care Planning forms to be aware of are “Living Will”, “POLST form” (Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment), “Durable Power of Attorney” (DPOA), “DPOA – Health”, “Power of Attorney” (POA), “POA Health”. A great place to start is talking about ones wishes as they age. This discussion is usually done with family or friends and as Dr. Brecher noted its best to talk about this “sooner than later”. Dr. Brecher however noted that although talking about Advanced Care Planning is a great start, it is simply not enough to just talk about these plans rather it is vital to have them “put in writing”. Once things are put in writing it should be noted that these plans should be “re-evaluated as you age”. Dr. Brecher used the example of reviewing each of his Advanced Care Planning forms every year on his birthday to see if anything needs to change or if things will just remain in place.

The best time to start Advanced Care Planning is right now!

– Andrew Price, MSW
NW Parkinson’s Social Services Manager