Online Aug 2015

Book Review

Ethics and the Elderly:
The challenge of long-term care

by Sarah M. Moses
Orbis Books (10 April 2015)
ISBN: 978-1626981317

Book coverThis is an enjoyable read of some of the less controversial areas in the ethics of long-term care in the elderly. The writing is well organized, with a conclusion to end each chapter. The author makes the important point at the beginning that while we live longer, we also have less health problems than before. However, simply by living longer, we develop more chronic disabilities.

When the author examines two modes of long-term care, certain common findings are noted. In both models, old age is valued and is seen as a time of potential growth. The elderly are valued by others and by themselves. The elderly are seen as people who give as well as receive. By participation in communal activities, they learn to value themselves and are valued. Both models recognize that care of the elderly is a basic measure of a just and healthy society.

The chapter on the elderly in the Bible shows us that the elderly are to be treated with respect. By honouring our parents, we honour God. Texts that condemn elder abuse are found throughout the Hebrew legal code. As with the Old Testament, so also the New Testament expects us to respect the elderly. Saint Paul includes widows as those who should receive special support from the church community. The author examines the stories of Abraham and Sarah as well as Zechariah and Elizabeth, faithful servants of the Lord in their old age.

The theological perspective of the elderly as disciples within the community is examined. By the very fact of being disciples, they share equal dignity with others.

The Church is called to provide care for the elderly both directly and indirectly. Emphasis needs to be given to home care when this is possible. Above all, we are called to enhance the dignity of the elderly.This book can inspire us to look after our elderly