Vatican City, 09 February, 2021 / 5:30 pm (ACI Africa).
The Vatican called on Tuesday for a rethinking of elder care in a document arguing that the elderly are best cared for in an environment more like a family home than a hospital.
The Pontifical Academy for Life published the 6,000-word document Feb. 9 on the need to improve social and pastoral care for the elderly, particularly after the devastating effect of the coronavirus pandemic on retirement homes across the world.
“During the first wave of the pandemic, a considerable part of the deaths from COVID-19 occurred in institutions for the elderly, places that should have protected the ‘most fragile part of society’ and where instead death has struck disproportionately more than the home and family environment,” the document said.
The pontifical academy called for a “profound change of mentality and approach” to care for the elderly, pointing to the disproportionate number of coronavirus-related deaths as an example of a failure of the widespread “institutionalization of the elderly” and calling it a manifestation of “throwaway culture.”
“The institutionalization of the elderly, especially of those most vulnerable and most alone, proposed as the only possible solution to look after them, in many social contexts manifests a lack of concern and sensitivity towards the weak, for whom it would rather be necessary to use means and financing to guarantee the best possible care to those who need it most, in a more familiar environment. Isolating the elderly is an obvious manifestation of what Pope Francis has called the ‘throwaway culture,’” it said.