Elders & Eldercare & Catholicism


#1

Hi, just kind of opening the door to a wide-ranging discussion here.

What inspires it? Well I have worked in several different capacities over the years with the elderly and I have seen a lot, and I know there are others out there who also have experience with corporate-style as well as in-home care. There are some special considerations for Catholics. I have seen people decide that some elder needs to be converted before they die, I have seen nurse's aides hide rosaries. It was because they were anticatholic in one case but because they feared the elder might put it in her mouth in another case.

As medical science progresses into ever-stranger areas, I fear there are longevity procedures that we might want to think about as Catholics. There was recently a call by a politician to keep Catholics out of the Emergency Rooms. If this type of thinking continues, what does that mean for an elder in crisis? Not to argue about it, but to discuss ways to provide enough spiritual care so that we need not notice if such thinking does come up in any hospital.

With the changing availability of priests and competent laity for sacraments, we might want to consider how we provide for devotional life for the elderly at home.

.


#2

Elder care can be a VERY gray area. Yes, there can be cruel cna/pn/rn’s who do things like hide rosaries, but they probably hide things from little jewish women and men and muslem men and women, too. They are petty arrogant people and should loose their job for doing such a graceless thing.

That being said they do often have a better idea of the progressivly deterorating mental state of a patient better than family…especally family that’s in denial. For instance if a patient who has a weakend immune system insists on taking swigs of holy water (that can contain bacteria if not gotten fresh or blessed for them) a nurse would be obligated to remove it even if the family sees it as harmless. Rosaries are particulary hard for older people to handle…and they can break becuase older people often loose sensitivity of touch. Metal crosses can be sharp and cut fragile skin. I’d recommend providing either one of those cheap plastic&knots or knotted w/wood cross rosaries.

I know people have lived and died for thousands of years, but today we face care-related issues that haven’t been faced becuase of our ability to keep people alive for longer. We face people who are dying at a greater and more advanced age, when their body has deterorated much more than someone who would of died of the same illness 20 years younger a century ago.


#3

[quote="purplesunshine, post:2, topic:185779"]
Elder care can be a VERY gray area. Yes, there can be cruel cna/pn/rn's who do things like hide rosaries, but they probably hide things from little jewish women and men and muslem men and women, too. They are petty arrogant people and should loose their job for doing such a graceless thing.

That being said they do often have a better idea of the progressivly deterorating mental state of a patient better than family...especally family that's in denial. For instance if a patient who has a weakend immune system insists on taking swigs of holy water (that can contain bacteria if not gotten fresh or blessed for them) a nurse would be obligated to remove it even if the family sees it as harmless. Rosaries are particulary hard for older people to handle...and they can break becuase older people often loose sensitivity of touch. Metal crosses can be sharp and cut fragile skin. I'd recommend providing either one of those cheap plastic&knots or knotted w/wood cross rosaries.

I know people have lived and died for thousands of years, but today we face care-related issues that haven't been faced becuase of our ability to keep people alive for longer. We face people who are dying at a greater and more advanced age, when their body has deterorated much more than someone who would of died of the same illness 20 years younger a century ago.

[/quote]

Catholics don't drink holy water. But obviously someone who is a little out of sync with reality might try.

I'm thinking more of the still-active elders and how we plan for our own aging process. I think the Church suffers as much as secular society from the separation of people into distinct age groups who don't spend time together. Partly I am also thinking of the insensitivity of my Protestant sister-in-law who was allowed to segregate my parents from the rest of us too easily. I did not recognize what she was doing until the end, when I realized how few Catholics were left in the family and saw her contemptuous attitude reflected among the Novus Ordo and lapsed members because my 92-yr-old father was faithful to the Latin Mass and my mother to her rosary. I am very grateful that they had a couple of friends in the Latin Mass community who went out of their way to visit because I was not close enough to see what was happening. I can now see that with a little planning, Catholic elders should be able to maintain their practice in spite of growing dependent on younger people who do not share their practice.

Also, I have worked with ahlzheimers' patients and I have seen a lot of ways that our Catholic reliance on artifacts and repetitious prayer can be very beneficial to people as they age.


#4

My parents died after short but terrific struggles with cancer, before they were old enough for us to deal with this issue, and MIL is going strong at 89, just needs a cane and stronger glasses. She finally consented to sell the old house with steep stairs and go into a senior apartment NOT assisted living, but nursing home is available should the need arise, so decision making will be easier. It is across the street from her parish and many residents and staff are parishioners. My other in-laws all deal with this in various ways with their own parents. I am in the generation that is taking care of elderly parents, and often grandchildren as well, full time. So I can’t speak directly just to make observations.

We say the rosary every Friday at the nursing home. Here that is for people who simply cannot be cared for at home because of the care they require so these residents are usually cognitively impaired to a degree, sometimes severely. We come in during their recreation time, put out holy pictures where they can see them, play some soft music CDs, give rosaries to those who can hold them, and lead the rosary. The nurses tell us some who join in, making the responses in strong voices, are usually unable to speak at all except for this. At this time in the morning, when we come in some patients are quite restless, noisy, seem in pain, sometimes even combative. When the rosary starts all become calm and the nurses say they are more comfortable and happy the rest of the day.

The state just did an investigation of nursing homes in the valley and the Diocesan-run home scored the highest in all categories, and is where I would put my own parent if the need arose. Other family members find their parents do well in a church-affiliated residence, not necessarily Catholic. I think the rules remain the same, do your research, be involved in your parent’s care, visit weekly if not daily, make sure the patient’s concerns are listened to, make sure their general medical care continues, and so forth. But if you are asking is it ever okay to put your elderly parent in an institution, yes, if there does come a time when they cannot be cared for at home, it may be the best choice and you should not feel guilty for wanting the best.


#5

It is good to have a home affiliatd with the elders' own faith, but always investigate to be sure they are actually living the faith. I was with a visitation group at one time and I saw that an ELCA pastor was pushing Missouri Synod elders into ahlzheimers' care because they would not accept sacraments from her (Missouri Synod lutherans are extremely conservative compared to ELCA lutherans) and the home did not always question her opinion when she made suggestions because they got more income for ahlzheimers' care. Lutherans were comfortable leaving their people in that home because of the list of pastoral resources, but unless they had a relative visiting and watching, they really did not have any clue as to what was going on.

If a family member can't visit an elder regularly so that they have some independent view of reports like a suggestion of dementia, then it is a very good idea to actually hire a trustworthy person to be a periodic visitor if your church does not have a volunteer visitation group. It takes someone with enough time to sit for a while so that an elder has time to say something if he can.


#6

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.