Caring for the Elderly & ending Elder Abuse

The elderly in our society are often forgotten, cast aside in what Pope Francis calls a “throwaway culture.” It is important for us to recognize the dignity and value that the elderly have to us as persons and as a society. It is important for families to be present to the elderly of society and therefore enrich their own lives. Unfortunately, elder abuse is an issue in society; whether verbal, physical, emotional, or financial, the abuse is real. The church calls attention to this tragedy so that we may bring awareness to it in order to prevent it in families and facilities.

From the Iowa Dept. on Aging:

“Report Elder Abuse

In the case of an emergency or life-threatening situation, call 911

For Individuals Living in the Community

For Individuals Living in a Long-Term Care Facility or Assisted Living Program

Opening Prayer

Father of mercy,

who gave us Saint Damien

a shining witness of love for the poorest and most abandoned,

grant that, by his intercession,

as faithful witnesses of the heart of your Son Jesus,

we too may be servants of the most needy and rejected.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen

(collect from May 10 Feast of Saint Damien de Veuster, Priest; Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.)

 

 

 Scripture Reading

 

Catechesis Video

Catechesis Reflection Questions

Grades 7-12

  1. What basic church principles and teachings support care for the elderly?
  2. Pope Francis called the elderly a “storehouse of wisdom”. What do the elderly teach us?
  3. Why do you think Pope Francis says ignoring or abandoning the elderly is a “deadly sin”?

Parish Leadership/Committees

  1. Pope Francis says abandoning the elderly is a “deadly sin”, what do you think he means by this? Why?
  2. Are the elderly ministered to in your parish? How might you expand on that ministry, or if not in existence, how might you create a ministry to the elderly?
  3. Is treatment of the elderly part of your religious education and faith formation programs across generations?

Faith sharing/Parishioners/College Students

  1. Do you take an active part in visiting the elderly in your life?
  2. What do you think Pope Francis means by calling the elderly a “storehouse of wisdom”?
  3. How might you be more present to the needs of the elderly in your family, parish, community?

Witness Video

Witness Video Questions

Grades 7-12

  1. What lessons can you learn from the Little Sisters of the Poor?
  2. Is there anything that surprises you about the Sisters’ attitudes towards their vocation?
  3. What do the Sisters share is the inspiration for their vocation and do they appreciate or are burdened by their work with the elderly?
  4. What is the greatest challenge for you to be attentive to and minister to the elderly?
  5. How can you help to prevent elder abuse?

Parish leadership/Committees

  1. What lessons can your parish learn from the Little Sisters of the Poor?
  2. How might their work influence your ministries at the parish?
  3. Does your parish ever talk to youth and young adults about the vocation of religious life in service to the elderly?
  4. What is the greatest challenge for you to be attentive to and minister to the elderly?
  5. How can your parish bring awareness to elder abuse?

Faithsharing/Parishioners/College Students

  1. What kind of attitude do the sisters have towards their work with the elderly?
  2. Is their work life-giving or life-draining?
  3. What is the greatest challenge for you to be attentive to and minister to the elderly?
  4. What can you do to help prevent and bring awareness to elder abuse?

Action Steps

Grades 7-12

  1. If you have grandparents or great aunts and uncles, make a plan to visit them.
  2. Volunteer with a local long term care facility with their activities office
  3. Become a pen pal with an elderly person and learn about their life.

Parish Leadership/Committees

  1. Create or strengthen a ministry at your parish that ministers to the elderly
  2. Offer opportunities for caregivers to share their experience caring for loved ones and provide contact to resources for them to get assistance if they feel overwhelmed (Catholic Charities counseling is one place for such care)
  3. Bring in educators to teach awareness and ways to help prevent elder abuse
  4. Review resources from the Iowa Dept. on Aging in the “additional resources” section and learn more about elder abuse.
  5. Make resources available and ensure your staff and parish leadership understands elder abuse and what to do if they suspect it.

Faithsharing/Parishioners/College Students

  1. Review resources from the Iowa Dept. on Aging in the “additional resources” section and learn more about elder abuse.
  2. Take time to be present to caregivers who may be under great stress caring for their loved ones
  3. Offer to assist in the caregiving ministry of the parish

Closing Prayer

Saint Anthony of the Desert (251-356 AD) 105 years old

“Dear God, St. Anthony the Abbot accepted your call to renounce the world and to love you above all things. He faithfully served you in the solitude of the desert by fasting, prayer, humility, and good works. In the Sign of the Cross, he triumphed over the Devil. Through his intercession, may we learn to love you better; with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, all our strength, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Amen.

 

Bonus Video