Legal and Medical Documents for Caregivers - Dementia Caregiver Web Support
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Legal and Medical Documents for Caregivers

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Because dementia generally worsens over time, planning for the future is important.  Making plans early allows the person with dementia to be as involved as possible in decisions affecting his or her future.  Plans for the future can include topics of health care, end of life care, and financial affairs. 

Since dementia is a progressive disease, the stage of the individual’s illness affects which decisions he or she can make independently.  A caregiver may need assistance in determining whether or not someone with dementia is able to make an informed decision.  If you are required to make a decision on behalf of a loved one, you should make the decision based on that person’s wishes and values.

Before reading the content on this page, it may be beneficial to review the following video(s) from the Office of Rural Health (ORH).

Legal Issues
Length: 05:03
Harold’s memory continues to decline and the family must face the legal issues around having a degenerative, chronic illness.

Facing Legal Issues
Length: 05:17
Nurse outlines legal and medical documents that are necessary to prepare for future care, end of life issues, power of attorney etc.

Advanced Directives

An Advance Directive for healthcare allows an individual to formally document their wishes for medical treatment.  It can be used to choose the person(s) who will make healthcare decisions on their behalf if they are unable to speak for themselves.  It can give instructions about the kinds of health care treatment the individual would want in certain medical situations.  It should be updated to reflect changes over time. 

There are many ways to get assistance with making an Advance Directive.  The laws and forms for Advance Directives vary by state.  You can get help from your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA).  gavel

The VA has Advance Directive form that can be filled out on paper, and scanned to become part of the Veteran’s electronic medical record.  A VA social worker can help you if you have not already completed this form. The documents below have instructions on how to complete an advance directive and a sample form.

Advance Directives may be completed without a lawyer.  Many communities offer services that can assist you.  If you have more complex legal or financial questions, you may need to consult a lawyer familiar with wills, trusts and estates, or eldercare law. 

Keep an updated original of your Advance Directive as well as any other important legal forms in safe and easily accessed location.  Make sure that your healthcare providers and anyone else who will be involved in carrying out Advance Directives is given a current copy.

An Advance Directive is not just for someone who has dementia.  Anyone can have an accident or illness, so it is a good idea to prepare for the unexpected by having your own Advanced Directive.  Remember to review these documents regularly.

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VA Resources

US Department of Veterans Affairs
VA values your commitment as a partner in our pledge to care for those who have "borne the battle." We have several support and service options designed with you in mind. The programs are available both in and out of your home to help you care for yourself and the Veteran you love.

Geriatrics and Extended Care Services (GEC) is committed to optimizing the health and well-being of Veterans with multiple chronic conditions, life-limiting illness, frailty or disability associated with chronic disease, agining or injury. This VA site reviews information on delirium, dementia and Alzheimer's care, decision making, home and community based services, and advance care planning, among many other important topics that may be important for you as a caregiver.

Veteran's Crisis Line Phone: 1-800-273-8255 (Veterans Press 1)

The VA does not endorse the following resources or guarantee that their information is 100% accurate.  However, you may be able to find some helpful information by visiting the following pages:

Alzheimer's Assocication: Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregiving Center
Explore the Financial and Legal Planning section to find out more information on finances and important financial documentation.

References: Information adapted from Alzheimer’s Association and Office of Rural Health
If you have any questions or concerns, contact us.