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I just read The Art of Dying Well; A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life by Katy Butler.
Hands down, it’s the most resourceful book I’ve read in regard to end-of-life planning.
Specifically, it’ll help advisors guide clients as they navigate health care systems, disabilities, terminal illnesses, emotions and choices surrounding downsizing, sustaining physical independence, preparing end-of-life directives (beyond traditional paperwork lawyers suggest), and much more.
Practical and easy to read, Katy provides well researched and actionable advice describing how individuals can thrive during their later years, ultimately achieving a more peaceful path to death. Her recommendations apply to those middle-aged and older.
Overviews and summaries at the start and end of each chapter are very helpful. Specifically, at the beginning of each chapter Katy lists emotional and physical attributes a reader (or a loved one) may be experiencing, enabling the reader to easily continue or skip to a chapter discussing a more pressing topic.
For example, if your client recently become a caregiver for an aging parent, skip to that chapter for productive advice. Also, at the end of each chapter is a bulleted summary of key points.
Real Stories About Others’ Final Days
Also included are real stories of individuals who faced health challenges or natural reasons for end of life, and how each coped with their final days of life.
The Art of Dying Well is also helpful for adult children (caregivers) of your elder clients. Specifically, Katy talks about the different stages of life that aging individuals progress through, e.g., losing independence and related impacts.
End-of-Life Topics Covered Include:
– Having the right medical directives in place. Interestingly, there is one most doctors prefer, yet more than likely, many of your clients have no idea about this form.
– Preparing strategies to age in place and maintain independence. For example, Katy cites the Village to Village movement, a national nonprofit organization that supports individuals aging in place. Personally, downsizing has been top-of-mind for me lately. I’ve now added this organization as a qualifier for my next community.
– Balancing quality of life with state-of-the art medical treatments.
– Cultivating relationships with younger individuals as well as younger doctors, and why it’s important.
– Preparing for a prolonged disability.
– Finding allies within the medical community.
– Decreasing risk of developing dementia by avoiding certain medications.
– Talking with loved ones about what a good death looks like for you.
– Understanding what dying looks like.
– Preparing for a home death.
Katy threw a curveball when she describes who NOT to call for help when an individual is actively dying at home on hospice.
Overall, this book will help you be more informed about end-of-life challenges, both physical and emotional, helping you to better guide aging clients and their adult children.
Finally, the resources at the end of The Art of Dying Well; A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life are reason alone to own it. Ultimately, you and your clients will benefit long term armed with honest information about planning for an individual’s final days of life.
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End-of-Life Planning Resources
I’ve found these end-of-life planning resources to be informative.
Slow Medicine — Katy Butler’s Facebook Community
End of Life Care and Bereavement — Barbara Karnes’s Facebook Community