Category : Aging / the Elderly

(The Goodbook) Vaughan Roberts on assisted dying, dignity and dependence

How should Christians bring our perspective into the public debates about assisted dying?

Well for a start, we need to make sure that we are involved in these discussions, even if it’s just closer to home—in our offices, in our communities, among our friends, as well as in the national debate. We’ve got good news to share—so let’s get engaged. So much of this discussion assumes that some lives are just not worth living—and Christians need to say, no, every life has dignity.

Second, we’ve also got something important to say about suffering. Our culture can’t cope with suffering—it wants to reduce suffering as much as possible and at all costs. Christians say suffering is bad—it’s a result of the fall—but God can be wonderfully at work in and through it.

And third, I think one key assumption underlying the argument for assisted suicide is that there’s just nothing worse than being dependent on others. But a Christian worldview says that actually our dependence on God and on one another is fundamental to our humanity. It’s a good thing! Illnesses brings that dependence to the fore, and that can be mutually very uplifting—for the carer and the one being cared for—even in the midst of very hard times. My father found the loss of independence the hardest aspect of his illness to cope with. At the very end of his life he was paralysed and unable to speak. Those last few days were intensely sad and yet also, in a strange way, profoundly beautiful. He had given so much to us and now we in the family had the privilege of caring for him, stroking and kissing him, singing his favourite hymns and praying. Such dependence is not undignified. This is being human.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Books, Children, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Theology

(CNS) Belgian brothers to allow euthanasia for nonterminal psych patients

A group of psychiatric care centers run by a Catholic religious order in Belgium has announced it will permit doctors to undertake the euthanasia of “nonterminal” mentally ill patients on its premises.

In a nine-page document, the Brothers of Charity Group stated that it would allow doctors to perform euthanasia in any of its 15 centers, which provide care to more than 5,000 patients a year, subject to carefully stipulated criteria.

Br. Rene Stockman, the superior general, has distanced himself from the decision of the group’s largely lay board of directors, however, and has told Belgian media that the policy was a tragedy.

“We cannot accept that euthanasia is carried out within the walls of our institutions,” said Stockman, a specialist in psychiatric care, in an April 27 interview with De Morgen newspaper in Brussels.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Belgium, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Roman Catholic

(Economist) America has a retirement problem, not a saving problem: Policymakers need to learn the difference

[Political leaders]…continue to ignore the savings crisis that should worry them: Many Americans do not have enough savings ever to be able to retire. Traditional macroeconomics cares only about aggregate levels of capital stock. There is plenty of that. But it is shared among too few people. The median family of retirement age has $12,000 in savings. That is a terrifying figure for a country where Social Security, the state pension, pays out a maximum of roughly $2,500 a month, and pensions for both public and private employees are underfunded.

For the median, wage-earning family, the best way to encourage saving is not to lower capital gains taxes or estate taxes, but to give the family access to a retirement plan that delays taxation until retirement. (In his textbook, Mr Mankiw encourages these plans, but only as another way to increase capital investment.) For those who put money into one, median accounts at retirement age rise to about $100,000—still inadequate for a lengthy retirement, but a significant improvement. About 70 percent of Americans have access to these plans through their employers. But just over half use one.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Economy

(Tel) C of E ministers could work beyond the age of 70 to ease the recruitment crisis

Senior Church of England ministers look set to be allowed to work beyond 70, as its ruling body votes on the issue for the first time amid concerns about a shortage of clergy.

The Anglican Church faces a recruitment crisis as hundreds of ministers are due to retire over the next decade and there is not enough younger staff to replace them.

A vote on the new rules, due to take place on Tuesday at the Church of England synod, will come after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, addresses the meeting on Monday.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

([London] Times) Dementia patients in Austria and Germany are still fighting the war 75 years on

Pensioners in Germany and Austria are suffering from delayed trauma caused by their experiences in the Second World War, resulting in assaults and threatening behaviour towards care home staff.

The problem is getting worse because the generation of children born after 1929, who were too young to fight in the war but old enough to witness its horrors, are now entering homes and hospices where suppressed memories are resurfacing, home managers and psychologists said.

Last month, an 83-year-old man pulled a pistol on two nurses in a care home in Altheim, Austria, after they found him in a corridor in his wheelchair during the night. They fled and called the police, who overpowered him. Last August, in the western German city of Münster, an 83-year-old man in a care home killed a 74-year-old man with whom he shared a room.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Austria, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Health & Medicine, History, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Violence

(C of E Comm Blog) From Zumba to singing: combatting loneliness amongst older people

Monday morning and it’s a Zumba class for the over 50s at St Stephen’s Church, Westminster. This class is part of St Stephen’s Second Half Club, a weekly day of classes that looks to build community, keep people active in mind, body and spirit, and ultimately combat social isolation. St Stephen’s is one of two London churches, the other being St Paul’s, North Marylebone running a pilot of this programme.

It is well-known that loneliness is a serious concern, with over half of adults in England saying they experience feelings of loneliness.

Although there are many different ways Anglican churches are addressing loneliness in their communities, what is truly exciting about the Second Half Clubs is the partnership that they can create with other organisations looking to achieve the same goals.

Read it all from Joseph Friedrich.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Music, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CC) L. Gail Irwin-Can retiring pastors mentor their own successors?

Judicatory leaders may feel either overjoyed or overwhelmed by an expanding corps of retired clergy who bring a wide range of needs and gifts to the wider church’s table. Moyer hopes that the future will bring a fruitful convergence of older clergy who need more relaxed schedules and a supplement to their pensions with congregations that can no longer support full-time salaries.

Whatever happens, judicatories will have to stay focused on the leadership needs of churches. Congregations, for their part, might be wise to find roles for retirees who are creative and flexible””and who can support new pastors in a time when the demands of leadership are changing.

“My guess is that no matter how the transitions happen, a one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate,” said Moore-Nokes.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Veteran celebrates 95th birthday aboard USS Yorktown where he was stationed in WW2

It’s not often that Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum gets to celebrate the birthday of a pilot who actually served aboard the aircraft carrier, but today, they did just that.

Former Air Force pilot and stalwart current volunteer Bill Watkinson turned 95 on the very ship that he called home during World War II.

Watkinson, a part-time resident of Mount Pleasant, is originally from New Jersey, but he’s been a volunteer tour guide aboard the Yorktown at Patriots Point for as long as spokesman Chris Hauff can recall. “He loves the Yorktown,” Hauff said.

Read it all from the local paper.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Aging / the Elderly, Health & Medicine, History, Military / Armed Forces

Rod Dreher's Deeply Troubling piece on Some Canadian RC Bps Pastoral Letter on Assisted Suicide

(You need first to take the time to read read the original document there.

“In the absence of faith, we govern by tenderness. And tenderness leads to the gas chamber,” said Flannery O’Connor. Her point was that sentimentality cannot restrain the darker forces in human nature. Which brings us to the Catholic bishops of eastern Canada.

They recently published a pastoral document indicating how, in their opinion, Catholics who commit suicide voluntarily, through doctor-assisted euthanasia (which is now legal there), should be treated by the Church….It is a masterpiece of Francis-speak. The document can be summed up like this: “Yes, euthanasia is strictly forbidden by the Catholic Church, but we know that some people are going to choose it anyway, so we intend to offer them all the sacraments to help them along the way, because who are we to judge?”

Here are some passages from the document. This is the opening paragraph:

In our Catholic tradition we often refer to the Church as our Mother. We perceive her as a mother who lovingly accompanies us throughout life, and who especially wishes to support and guide us when we are faced with difficult situations and decisions. It is from this perspective that we, the Bishops of the Atlantic Episcopal Assembly, wish to share with you this pastoral reflection on medical assistance in dying.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Canada, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, Theology

(NBC) Oldest Known Pearl Harbor Survivor, 104, Returns to Honor the Fallen

The word “survivor” seems especially fitting when describing Ray Chavez ”” a 104-year-old gym rat who defies his age. Chavez first became a survivor on Dec. 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor.

“I can’t forget it. I never will,” he says of the attack.

Chavez was stationed at the U.S. naval base when the bombing started.

“I got very emotional that day. There were so many, many innocent people that were lost,” he said.

Read it all (and the video is highly recommended).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, History, Japan

Tues. Morning Mental Health Break–WONDERFUL Christmas Ad May starring Grandpa (+his dog)

(Hat tip: Greg Kandra)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Children, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Media, Theology

(Time) Penelope Wang-The Next President’s Financial Imperative: Fixing Social Security

Today some 60% of Americans age 65 or older rely on Social Security for 50% or more of their family income”“the average payment is a modest $1,300 a month. For some 33% of families, the benefit makes up 90% to 100% of their income.

There’s a lot at stake for the overall federal budget as well, since entitlement programs are grabbing a larger and larger overall share of federal expenditures. Social Security alone accounts for $1 out of every $4 spent, and Medicare and Medicaid spending make up another 25%. Together these entitlement programs account for most of the future growth in spending, not including interest payments on debt, says MacGuineas.

The surge in Social Security spending is chiefly driven by the aging of the U.S. population. The leading edge of the baby-boom generation of 75 million began heading into retirement just as Obama took office. Back in 2009, the nation’s worker-to-retiree ratio stood at 3.0 to 1. Today, with more boomers having exited the workforce, the ratio has dropped to 2.8 to 1, and by 2035 it is projected to shrink to 2.1 to 1.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Social Security, The U.S. Government, Theology

(BI) U.S. public pension plans are headed for a disaster on the current trajectory

The combined debt held by U.S. public pension plans will top $1.7 trillion next year, according to a just-released report from Moody’s Investors Services.

This “pension tsunami” has already forced towns like Stockton, California and Detroit, Michigan into bankruptcy. Perhaps no government mismanaged their pension as badly as Puerto Rico, where a $43 billion pension debt forced the commonwealth to seek protection from the federal government after having defaulted on its obligations to bondholders ”” a default which is expected to spread to retirees in the form of benefit cuts.

While the disastrous outcome of Puerto Rico’s pension plan ”” which is projected to completely run out of assets by 2019 ”” represents the worst-case scenario, the same series of events that led to its demise can be found in most public pension plans nationwide.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, City Government, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Psychology, State Government, Stock Market, Theology

(WaPo) Archbp Desmond Tutu supports assisted suicide in a Washington Post op-ed

Regardless of what you might choose for yourself, why should you deny others the right to make this choice? For those suffering unbearably and coming to the end of their lives, merely knowing that an assisted death is open to them can provide immeasurable comfort.

I welcome anyone who has the courage to say, as a Christian, that we should give dying people the right to leave this world with dignity. My friend Lord Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, has passionately argued for an assisted-dying law in Britain. His initiative has my blessing and support ”” as do similar initiatives in my home country, South Africa, throughout the United States and across the globe.

In refusing dying people the right to die with dignity, we fail to demonstrate the compassion that lies at the heart of Christian values. I pray that politicians, lawmakers and religious leaders have the courage to support the choices terminally ill citizens make in departing Mother Earth. The time to act is now.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Theology

(Globe and Mail) Daphne Gilbert–Catholic hospitals have no right to refuse assisted Suicide

Canadians are grappling with one of the most difficult legal issues we have faced in decades: our collective responsibility to facilitate medically assisted death for those who choose it and satisfy the legal criteria. Since the Supreme Court decided in 2015 that Canadians have a Charter-protected right to a dignified death of their choosing, governments, doctors, hospitals and citizens have struggled to accept and move forward with a workable regime. One of the biggest impediments, however, is institutional resistance. Hospitals that claim a right to conscientious objection may well prove the Achilles heel in government efforts to breathe life into a right to die.

Catholic hospitals, which are publicly funded, take the position that as institutions they have religious rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This position was recognized by some Supreme Court judges in a 2015 case known as Loyola High School v Quebec. Three judges concluded that a religious institution, as a collective, could claim a right to freedom of religion under Section 2(a) of the Charter. However, the three judges added a key caveat to this conclusion: “”¦ an organization meets the requirements for s. 2(a) protection if (1) it is constituted primarily for religious purposes, and (2) its operation accords with these religious purposes.” Publicly funded hospitals do not satisfy this test and therefore have no claim to freedom of religion.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Canada, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology