On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness news for all Oklahomans.

"It Always Seems Too Early Until It's Too Late"

Here's a quiz: When is the right time to name someone to speak for you in case of serious illness?

A: When you're in good health

B. When you're in a coma

The answer, of course, is "A." Unfortunately, many people are reluctant to discuss their medical wishes in case of serious illness, especially when they are feeling fine. But often, the result is family conflict and confusion at a time when a patient is most vulnerable, and cannot speak for himself or herself.

While making health care decisions is often difficult in the best of circumstances, making decisions for others is even more complicated, especially in the middle of a health crisis. Studies show that 90 percent of people believe talking with their loved ones about end-of-life care is important, but only 27 percent have actually had the conversation. 

However, everyone has the ability to guide their health care providers and their loved ones about future medical care.

Advance directives (also known as living wills or medical durable power of attorney) are free, legal documents that give you the ability to document the types of health care you do and do not want, and to name an “agent” to speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself. Having an advance directive can be valuable for all adults, regardless of current age or health status.

Today is National Healthcare Decisions Day. This annual initiative is a collaboration of health care, religious and legal organizations committed to ensuring that all adults with decision-making capacity in the U.S. have the opportunity to communicate their health care decisions.

The theme for this year's Healthcare Decisions Day is “It always seems too early, until it’s too late.” For many families, this is an unfortunate reality. Please complete your advance directive today and also encourage  your loved ones to do the same.

For more information about advance care planning, including information about Oklahoma laws that govern advance directives, go to Advance Directives on the INTEGRIS website. There you will find more information and documents you need to name a durable power of attorney for your health care decisions.