October is “Respect Life Month” in the Church. And although our thoughts, words and actions are so often immediately drawn to the issue of protection of the unborn, we must also not forget that the call to Respect Life goes well into all aspects of our human existence. Life at all stages of our being.
We at VITALity are committed to advance the well-being and dignity of life for those who are elderly and/ or disabled. Through programs and services that address the health and well-being of our seniors, we seek to provide for them the things they need to live independently. To be happy, safe and healthy in their homes for as long as possible. We call that “Aging in Place” and anything that can be done to preserve this is a sign of great respect for our elderly.
Respect for their lives also includes any and all efforts to provide them social engagements within their communities as well as to gather in communal religious expression through participation in liturgical celebrations at their parish church. Maintaining a social and religious network of activity is critical for their physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
Depression is commonly the result of isolation of the person who can no longer participate in such activity and is often a precipitating factor of physical decline and can hasten the onset of death. No life needs to end prematurely because the community cannot support their emotional need of companionship and purpose in life. No life is valueless and no life needs to end in physician assisted suicide due to such depression, loneliness and/or the inability of social and medical support systems to manage the pain of illness and control the physical suffering of any one person. It is often at the intersection of faith and medicine that a person finds the strength and ability to cope with pain and suffering and continue to live their lives with dignity and purpose.
We need to respect these heroic lives at all times through our actions that support them through these vulnerable years. We need to give our frail elderly brothers and sisters every chance to “Live Life to the Fullest”. Be there for them. Help them in their infirmities. Advocate on their behalf. Allow them to stay fully alive in mind, body and spirit and to remain a valuable part of the ever loving Body of Christ, His Church.
So, this month of October, go out of your way to get to know some of the elderly members of your parish community. See what they might need and help them in some way. Advocate for them and bring their voice to the parish to determine what their faith community can do to enhance their lives. And know that VITALity Catholic Healthcare Services of the Diocese of Camden is here for them as well. Just call our Help Line at 1-888-26 VITALity. (888-268-4825) and one of nurses or social workers will arrange a visit to help them through any health related issue so that they can “Live Life to the Fullest”, experiencing the love of Christ through the people they encounter.
By Deacon Jerry Jablonowski, Executive Director
VITALity Catholic Healthcare Services