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Advance Care Planning

Having conversations early, when you are healthy, will relieve those closest to you of the burden of having to guess about what you would want in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself.

Advance care planning statistics

Sources: Conversation Project National Survey (2013) and Survey of Californians by the California Health Care Foundation (2012).

It is impossible to predict the exact health situation you might be in and what treatments will be available to you at that time. Discussions with those closest to you about your goals and values can help to guide the “in the moment” decisions that may need to be made and will allow you to maintain as much control over your health care as possible.

If you become too sick to make your own health care decisions and have not planned ahead for your medical care, your doctor will need to consult with your family or close friends to learn more about what you would or would not want in certain situations. The best way to guarantee that your wishes are known and honored is to talk to members of your family, close friends and health care providers about your goals and preferences for care and treatment and document them.

Benefits of Advance Care Planning

  • Helps to ensure that the care that you desire is the care that you receive.
  • Prevents overtreatment and treatment by default.
  • Less stress, depression and anxiety for you and your family.
  • Higher satisfaction with the healthcare experience.
  • Earlier access and support from palliative care and hospice services.
  • Improved access to grief and bereavement support.

Additional Facts You Should Know

  • In Vermont, it is not automatically a person’s next of kin (spouse, parent, adult sibling, etc.) who can make decisions if a person is unable to speak for themselves.
  • There’s no need to involve a lawyer in creating or revising advance directives. In Vermont, these documents need only be witnessed by two adults and do not have to be notarized.
  • If someone’s wishes change, advance directive documents can, and should, be changed.
  • Most importantly, for advance directives to be effective, people need to have conversations with their appointed decision-maker and other loved ones about their values and what matters most to them.

Vermont’s Advance Directive Registry

  • Vermont offers a registry for residents to submit their advance directives free of charge.
  • The Vermont Advance Directive Registry (VADR) is part of the national US Living Will Registry.
  • It is a secure online database where Vermonters can submit copies of their completed advance directive forms to be accessed by authorized health care facilities and providers.