Frequently Asked Questions To Plan Your Advance Care Today

What is an advance directive?
An advance directive includes: an oral or written statement of your wishes for the future, usually related to health care decisions; and a written designation of a proxy to make health-care decisions for you.

Who can make an advance care directive?
Any person who has the capacity to make decisions for himself or herself and who is at least 18 years of can execute an advance directive and appoint a health care proxy to make medical decisions.

When is it effective?
An advance health-care directive will take effect when a person's health-care provider (primary physician) and one other physician determine that the person can no longer make their own medical decisions. The new legislation requires only that two physicians certify that a patient no longer has ability to make medical decisions for themselves. This change from certification that the patient was terminally ill or in a persistent vegetative state was in keeping with the Constitutional requirement that anyone can refuse medical treatment and can refuse such treatment in advance of incapacity to make that decision.

How long does the advance directive last?
An advance directive lasts until the time of your death unless you revoke it sooner.

How do I revoke an advance directive?
You can revoke an advance directive, at anytime and in any manner that communicates intent to revoke the advance directive. You do not need to do this in writing.  For example, you can destroy the directive.

What happens if I don't plan my advance health care?
The law in Oklahoma presumes that you want cardiac resuscitation if your heart stops.  It also assumes that you want artificially administered hydration and nutrition if you haven't made your wishes known to the contrary when you were competent.  So, if you fail to plan advance care, health providers are bound by these laws.

What if I don't appoint a health care proxy?
If you fail to appoint a person you trust to speak for you when you are no longer able to communicate your wishes for health care the court may have to appoint someone or, worse, the court may have to make your health decisions for you.  Effective November 1, 2017, Oklahoma law includes a surrogacy statute which assigns a proxy based upon a hierarchy of family members and friends if no health care proxy is appointed.

What if I am not quite ready to make all of these difficult choices for myself?
You should definitely appoint someone that you trust to make the decisions for you if you are suddenly incapacitated and can't speak for yourself.  This avoids confusion between your health providers, family and friends as to who you want to make these important decisions.  You should also be sure to talk to your proxy and let them know how you feel about cardiac resuscitation and artificially administered  hydration and nutrition.

Hospice Care:

You can insert language in your advance directive about WHERE you want to die too. Most of us want to die at home.

Most people would prefer to live, but if we have to die, most of us would like to die at home, in the company of family and friends and free of pain. In many cases, hospice care makes this possible.

Hospice care provides services to individuals and families during the process of dying and bereavement. Hospice care is meant to help meet the physical, social, psychological, spiritual and emotional needs of individuals and families during this very difficult time. The medical and non-medical services are delivered in the least restrictive setting possible. In most cases professionals, the family and volunteers provide these services in the home setting.

Hospice medical services focus on palliative care (control of symptoms and management of pain) rather than intensive, curative care. Hospice medical services are delivered by a team of individuals working with the individual's primary care physician.

A network of trained volunteers provides some of the non-medical services. Services can include transportation to medical appointments, respite care to allow family members to take brief breaks, and meal preparation. How to choose a hospice: VisitOklahoma Hospice & Palliative Care Association Website

Hospice care is a service that can be paid for by private insurance, Medicare or Medicare.

More Useful Information

Other useful forms are available to help you express your wishes. For example, you can use a form to direct health providers to allow your natural death if you don't want cardiac resusitation should your heart stop. You should discuss this decision with your health provider and family before you complete it. Click here to download DNR Consent Form