Cathy Beer reports on a unique conference which looked at the care of the elderly from the point of view of their spiritual needs.
Britain, like the rest of Western Europe, has an ageing population, and our free market economy does not find it easy to accommodate those in our society who are apparently ‘non-productive’. One often senses that the old are regarded as a burden on society, and often they are treated as such, if some of the recent media reports on homes for the elderly are to be believed. On top of all this, the debate about euthanasia has come to the forefront.But the elderly are simply the young of a few years ago, brothers and sisters with all the normal needs for love and care that the rest of us have. ‘Soul Matters’, a day conference organised by the New Humanity section of the Focolare Movement, brought together a wide variety of people, experts, carers and the elderly themselves, to offer some positive experiences and ideas on this very important subject. ‘A rich tapestry where love was the thread running through it all,’ was how someone described the day on the spiritual care of older people, held on 11 February at the Centre for Unity, Welwyn Garden City. Anne Horsman, a local GP, explained how the idea was born of an experience with her mother who had been suffering from dementia: ‘I was determined to do the things we had always done – meals out, church…. Her short-term memory was short indeed and I thought to myself “Why am I concerned about doing this? She won’t remember”. And then I heard in my mind: “But her soul knows”.’
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