It takes a village to care for the elders, in our community here in Cambria and on the Central Coast.
This is a mantra for me recently, as I witness all the various people who come together to look after those elders who need a bit of support. When an aged person can no longer stay safely at home without the assistance of a full-time caregiver, a larger circle is needed to support the primary caregiver. Frequently the spouse, adult child or other loved one takes on this role as it becomes necessary. Just as parenting a child comes more through instinct and less by reading a manual, stepping in to be a caregiver for a loved one in this tender life stage is a process that may come with books that no one has time or energy to read.
For some folks, who have spent their lives living in the same place among family and friends, they have vast networks of people who step in to help. I have seen this unfold beautifully; following the death of a spouse, long-time friends and family step up to care for a loved one who suffers from dementia. They support the primary caregiver, and reach out to services like Morning Light Spirit Journey when the circle of care has a gap that needs to be filled in the schedule.
It has been a joy to see an unfolding support system, a group of souls moved by genuine love and concern, to hold a long-time friend, as even a person with cognitive disorder grieves a lost spouse. It is fulfilling to support this spontaneous team.
For other folks, with no offspring, family or friends nearby, professional services provide around the clock support. If the client is in the final stage of life, a death doula comes in to give emotional, energetic and spiritual support to both the caregiving team and the person receiving care. The death doula supports the client in transition, in a way that is difficult (due to time and energy) for the full-time caregiver. At the same time, the doula is able to intuit the needs of the team and to bring in spiritual care to the client.
An end of life doula is an integral member of the village of care. I am so grateful to be able to serve my clients by bringing compassion and loving-kindness to situations that demand it, on top of integrity, truth and dependability.