Ageing In Bermuda WrapUp Session Report

October 14, 2016

A wrap-up session has been held for the ‘Ageing In Bermuda Series’ hosted by the Peace and Social Justice Committee of the Roman Catholic Church of Bermuda, with a report produced.

A spokesperson said, “Each workshop had a particular focus: the first was Ageing and Employment; the second Ageing and Healthcare; the third Ageing and Legal Issues; the fourth Ageing and Rest Homes, Eldercare and fifth, Ageing and End of Life.

“The wrap-up session intended to revisit key themes from the previous individual sessions with the goal of determining which concern in each session is the most significant concern and requires first attention and/or action.

“Here are the findings from the wrap-up session:

1. Employment – A. Ageing and stereotypes

Other issues under employment were:

  • B. A grassroots effort to persuade the Government to make mandatory retirement [beginning first with Government offices] illegal.
  • C. Seniors to take initiative and responsibility to maintain professional development [eg. keeping up with technology].

“The group felt that raising awareness about Ageing in Bermuda to minimize the numerous stereotypes “out there” about this issue and what it means to be 65 years and older, is the best way to begin to change perceptions about seniors; and, with a change in perception and attitude comes a change in behavior, policy and ultimately law.”

2. Healthcare – A. Prevention [exercise, food choices, healthy life style etc.]
Other issues of concern under healthcare were:

  • B. Healthcare costs [bring them down]
  • C. Incentives – Insurance companies, workplace wellness program incentives

“The group felt that to the most important issue to address regarding healthcare was “prevention”, helping seniors and the community at large understand that our best way – most readily available, most cost effective and immediate – to help fight the issue on Ageing and Healthcare in Bermuda was through preventive healthcare.”

3. Legal Issues – A. A Stronger System for Legal Protection Against Abuse of All Kinds, this requires advocacy, enforcement and legislation

Other major issues of concern for this topic were:

  • B. The need to increase awareness education throughout the community;
  • C. Access to lawyers and services, pro-bono or discounted fees, legal clinics.

“This group believed what was most needed was to set up a legal protection system that protected against abuse of all kinds. The question to ask however is, who would lead this? Who would organize this?”

4. Rest Homes/Eldercare – A. Patient Advocacy and Community/ Family Involvement

Other major issues of concern for this topic were:

  • B. Transparency regarding fees and services of rest homes
  • C. The Quality of Care received in Rest Homes – inconsistencies, minimum level is too low.

“The group felt that there needs to be a patient advocacy group and greater community and family involvement when it comes to rest home oversight. Community and Family patient advocacy group is the best way to ensure that policies, rules and physical, legal and governmental developments, vis a vis patient care in rest homes, is being met.

“The group felt that with an advocacy group in place this would also ensure that concern B. and C. would as well be addressed.”

5. End of Life – A. Discomfort with the End of Life Issues – Estate planning, Finance, Where to die etc

Other issues of concern for this topic were:

  • B. Technology prolong the life cycle leading to a “living denial”
  • C. Power of Attorney for Family Member – elder abuse [physical, financial, emotional, and psychological] and Maintaining Family nest egg.

“The group felt that the most important matter to address in this section was helping the elderly and the community minimize some of its discomfort with death and dying. This is why it is important to plan and organize ahead of time, the group felt, with wills, estate planning, executors for one’s will etc; as well as ethical issues of technology overreach and “DNR” instructions at the end of life. How do we have those tough conversations?

“How do we begin talking about death? How do we better learn to manage grief in our society, in preparation for the inevitable, death?”

The Peace and Social Justice Chairperson, Joanne Wohlmuth, said, “The Social Justice teachings of the Roman Catholic Church remind us that an important component of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the “Option for the Poor and Vulnerable” and that we as community are required to give respect, dignity and assistance to “the poor and lowly within society”.

“Pope Pius XI reiterated that justice and charity “were the principle laws of social life” which must “govern economic undertakings.”

“In his book, “Action and Contemplation,” the great Christian Mystic and social justice advocate Thomas Merton said, ‘It is not enough for us to ignore such things [ incompetence, injustice, economic and social confusion] on the ground that we are helpless, and can do nothing constructive about the situation. It is a duty of charity and of justice for every Christian to take an active concern in trying to improve man’s condition in the world.’

“The Catholic Social Justice Teachings rich in wisdom and inspiration, as expressed above, call us to stand up for justice [and for peace] in our society. Hence the series on Ageing In Bermuda was yet another of our committee’s attempts to do just that – to answer the call, to look at this looming issue in our community then do something, even when others may remain silent.

“Consequently we have come together as individuals, concerned citizens, social activists and as community organizations and leaders to share our knowledge and concerns of our Ageing Bermuda community and start asking those important questions – what can we/ must we do about this?

“This report represents merely an overview of our many discussions together, highlights our many questions and concerns and points the way forward to possible solutions and action plans. Our Peace and Social Justice committee will continue to review it and determine what can we address next, and or, where from here to continue the work within our environment and sphere of influence?

“We invite you to continue to journey with us, or carry the work forward in your own individual groups, church communities, social organizations, charities or work environments.

“Thanks to all of you for your participation and engagement in our Ageing in Bermuda series. Best wishes in your endeavors in carrying on the work. Let us all continue to walk together, to influence the river-tide, one drop at a time.”

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