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What is an end-of-life doula?

Aging has changed over the past few decades. Not only has the life expectancy increased, but more people wish to face death in more comfortable surroundings rather than at a hospital.

A growing utilization of hospice is one part of the change. Correspondingly, a growing demand exists for people willing to help others confront the fear of death and confront it in their own preferred manner.

The role of a doula

Doulas have long aided women during pregnancy and childbirth. They cut through medical jargon in advocating for the wishes of a mother (often detailed in a birth plan) and offer support during the delivery process. Now, there are doulas to help assist with another major life milestone: end-of-life transitions.

An end-of-life doula, or EOLD, is trained to provide spiritual, emotional, and physical support to patients at the end of their lives. They will meet with the patient and ensure their wishes are carried out. As a neutral they may be better equipped to make sure that unwanted extreme life saving measures are not applied. They understand the medical community objectives as well as the individual’s wishes and can navigate them to ensure advanced care planning is followed.

Addressing emotional needs

For many people, the emotions are hard to navigate. A doula can help determine the causes of emotional distress such as regrets and/or relationships that need to be mended. If possible, he or she can look for solutions to address the concerns. This role is more than interacting only with medical personnel.

And unlike traditional hospice services, doulas have more time to spend with patients to address emotional and spiritual needs. They may play a valuable part in a team of professionals, as they receive training to be able to spot changes in medical situations and can alert hospice nurses.

Another benefit of choosing an EOLD, is that they assist the family as well as the patient. They can help families and patients formulate a plan and decide when it is right to shift to hospice.

End-of-life planning is something few people tend to consider before it is too late. Options are available to make the last weeks and days easier for all involved, but early planning is critical. Whether you need an advance directive or other services for your end-of-life planning, a trusted elder law attorney can help you be prepared for whatever is to come.

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