Thanks to modern medicine and better standards of living, we are living longer than ever before, and end of life care is adapting to meet the changing needs of an ageing population. Many elderly people prefer to live at home instead of staying in a hospital setting or moving into residential care.
End of life and palliative care is provided by a range of professionals working in health, human services or community agencies. It can be provided at home, in a hospital or hospice, or in a residential aged care facility.
If someone has a life-limiting or terminal illness, end of life and palliative care helps improve their quality of life and provides support to them, their families and carers. The focus is on managing symptoms, offering choice, and providing comfort, emotional support and practical assistance.
Assistance might take the form of help with daily tasks, or the provision of services, information, advice and referrals.
Doulas have traditionally offered non-medical advice and support around childbirth. But death, like birth, is a journey from the time of diagnosis, to passing, bereavement and recovery. More people are choosing to live at home as they approach the end of their lives and are hiring death doulas to guide and support them at this time.
Living out their last days at home, in a familiar and comfortable environment, can be beneficial for those approaching death. Some people dislike the idea of engaging with a medicalised palliative care system, of being denied choice and autonomy, but family or friends may not be able to provide the care and support they need at home.
Death doulas can fill this gap. They assist people before, during and after a death, helping dying individuals and their families recognise that death is a natural process. They provide physical, emotional, mental and sometimes spiritual support to help people navigate the transition from life to death.
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