If you have provided primary care to a person over a period of time, you may be the person most equipped to determine what needs to be done in preparation for the person’s death, and to fulfill his or her wishes. As a care giver you should trust in your ability to handle these additional responsibilities, but also realize that some things are out of your control.

If appropriate, and agreed to by the person, you should connect with the person’s support structure: this may include family, friends, clergy and ministers, professionals-those who might be interested in helping the person to prepare for a good end of life. Discuss with them what the person may want at the end stages of life.

Encourage the person and/or the family to review their legal and financial arrangements. This may include wills, powers of attorney (both financial and healthcare), “no code” or do-not-resuscitate orders, as well as the location and disposition of important documents and proofs of ownership. Having all of these measures in place and up-to-date will spare the family time and difficulty.

There are many steps that can and should be taken well in advance of a person’s final days. These include a letter of last instructions (in which your person sets down his or her wishes for the funeral or ceremony), as well as pre-planning with a funeral home. Many choices and details can be finalized beforehand, when everyone is thinking clearly. This offers the additional reassurance that matters are being carried out in accordance with a person’s wishes.

Thinking about death is frightening, but planning ahead is practical and leaves more room for peace of mind in our final days. In a solemn, thoughtful talk, Judy MacDonald Johnston shares 5 practices for planning for a good end of life.  See Judy's TED talk below.