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An End-of-Life (death doula) is a non-medical professional who is trained to care for a person and their family holistically in the last phase of life. Holistic means “whole" - death doulas are trained to know what to expect physically, emotionally, and spiritually as someone’s body declines and what interventions to suggest for optimum comfort.
Doulas can become involved any time in a person’s life, offering support when people are impacted by a life-changing illness, after a terminal diagnosis, when death is imminent, or even after a death—to help with light grief support. Doulas serve both the person going through the dying process and their loved ones and caregivers.
Doulas normalize deathcare by creating spaces to hold conversations, leading to increased communication with resulting increased spiritual and emotional well being. When individuals plan for death, they have autonomy over their decisions and are able to clearly define their end-of-life wishes with family and loved ones.
Legacy projects help individuals, families and caregivers review the life of a dying person or elder with the hopes of creating a meaningful project that serves as a living memory after the individual’s death.
The beauty of legacy work is that there is no timeline to when it should or can be implemented. Legacy work can be completed before or after a person dies. It can be as simple as an audio recording of meaningful stories or as complex as creation of an art project.
Some ideas for legacy projects are listed below:
- Audio recording/transcription
- Recipe book
- Legacy quilt
- Legacy letters
- Creation of scholarship
- Legacy bench
End-of-Life doulas can assist with planning, creating, and finalizing these projects.
Advance care planning involves discussing and preparing for future decisions about your care if you become seriously ill or are unable to communicate your wishes. These wishes are often documented in advance directives, which include a living will and durable medical power of attorney (also called health-care proxy - names may vary by state). Both of these forms are available on your state's department of health website. However, these forms are often limited in their scope and in their ability to safeguard your wishes. More information regarding these documents can be provided during a free 30-minute consultation - Please leave a message on the homepage to schedule.
Filling out these forms, however, is not enough! The most important aspect of advance care planning is communicating these wishes to your chosen medical power of attorney and loved ones. Your medical power of attorney and family should not be making decisions for you - They should simply be carrying forward and advocating for your previously stated wishes. Assistance in starting and having these conversations is available.
A care consultant is a professional specially trained to help another person through all aspects of advanced care planning. This expands beyond completing an advance directive. Care consultants help people make subjective choices for their next chapter - where they want to age, how they want to age, what quality of life is to them, and their advanced directives, including specific wishes, for their end of life. Care consultants provide information and resources regarding various aging options and assist people in creating a "living well" plan and communicating that plan to family and loved ones.
As an elder care consultant, I offer specific services for elders in the community, which can be particularly helpful in filling gaps in areas where the elder is needing assistance or providing support if family is not available, either due to them living out of city or state or a lack of availability during certain times.
By being available in the home, I can assess that the elders needs are being met - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I may be available to fill some of these gaps personally, like helping to complete errands, organizing the home and important documents, or accompanying the elder to appointments, or if there are areas of concern beyond my capacity, I can assist the elder and their family in creating a plan to remedy the situation, particularly paying attention to potential safety concerns if the elder is living independently. When the time comes, this role can easily be transitioned into the death doula role for continued care and support.