Written by Calgary Pastoral Centre
In November 2021, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) launched Horizons of Hope: A Toolkit for Catholic Parishes on Palliative Care. The launch marked the culmination of a four-year process whereby the CCCB partnered with experts from Pallium Canada, Dominican University College, the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, Catholic Health Alliance of Canada, and the Congregation of the Sisters Saint Joseph in Canada. This partnership ensured the development of a high-level resource that will benefit Catholic parishioners eager to grow in their understanding of palliative care and Church teaching on end-of-life questions. Promo Video - English | French
This toolkit seeks to offer support and formation for parishioners with faith communities to assist them when faced with the illness and death of loved ones, particularly through the lens of palliative care, faith and Compassionate Communities.
The toolkit is available in French and English. Key features include a detailed facilitator's guide, four modules organized in a step-by-step learning process, videos, and take-home resources. The entire toolkit is available on the CCCB website at https://www.cccb.ca/faith-moral-issues/suffering-and-end-of-life/horizons-of-hope-a-toolkit-for-catholic-parishes-on-palliative-care.
7 proven ways to protect against cognitive decline
If you’re nearing old age, or have a family history of dementia, you’ve probably started to wonder, “What can I do to keep my mind healthy as I grow old?”
Of course, there’s only so much anyone can do to protect against cognitive decline. Genetics and other factors outside our control play such a big role.
But it turns out there are certain things that do make a difference. Researchers have identified some straightforward strategies to stave off cognitive decline as a person grows older.
And it turns out, keeping church and prayer commitments is an important part of it.
Here are 7 things you can do now to protect your brain as you age. (You might be pleasantly surprised to find that you’re already doing some of them!)
- Take a walk
Regularly going on a walk is one of the most reliable ways to keep your brain sharp as you age. Enjoy a scenic forest path, or simply stroll your neighborhood!
Spend time with your friends
While you’re walking, invite a friend along. Maintaining strong social networks is linked
to slower cognitive decline.
Read a book
Frequent reading is protective
of cognitive function in later life. Consider joining or starting a book club to get the benefits of friendship and reading at the same time!
Spend time with your family
Living near family as you age imparts 4 to 6 years of extra life expectancy, and it’s good for your grandchildren or great-grandchildren, who have lower rates of mortality and lower rates of disease. This is called the “grandmother effect.”
Keep holy the Sabbath
Belonging to a faith-based community and attending services about 4 times a month “is worth
between four and 14 extra years of life expectancy.” Who knew going to church was so good for you?
Talk to God
Praying regularly is associated
with lower risk of mild cognitive impairment.
Eat fish and vegetables
A Mediterranean diet has been associated with longevity for a long time. Now researchers have found
that it’s specifically the prevalence of fish and vegetables in this diet that is so beneficial.
- Blessed are you who listen to your patients, especially those with constant complaints, for you possess the ears of Christ.
- Blessed are you who see the hurts of your patients, especially those overlooked by others, for you possess the eyes of Christ.
- Blessed are you who speak kindly to your patients, especially those plagued by fear or anger, for you possess the mouth of Christ.
- Blessed are you who touch your patients gently, especially those bruised by insensitivity, for you possess the hands of Christ.
- Blessed are you who think prayerfully of your patients, especially those alone and discouraged, for you possess the mind of Christ.
- Blessed are you who show love to your patients, especially those with chronic illness, for you possess the heart of Christ.
- Blessed are you who walk tirelessly to your patients, especially those with repeated calls, for you possess the feet of Christ.
- Blessed are you who persevere in your ministry, especially with compassion to all patients, for you possess the healing presence of Christ, and yours is the kingdom of heaven.
(Caring for the Sick and Elderly; A Parish Guide by Sr. Marie Roccapriore MPF)
- Blessed are those who sleep poorly because they are worried about their loved one or because their loved one wakes in the middle of the night and needs help, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are those who mourn because their loved one, though still alive, is slipping away because of dementia, for they will be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek who force themselves to speak up and speak out to make sure their loved one receives the help he or she needs, for they will inherit the land.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for answers to why this is happening to their loved one and how much longer it will go on, for they will be satisfied.
- Blessed are those who show mercy, kindness and compassion to their loved one, for they will be shown mercy, kindness and compassion.
- Blessed are those who keep clean a loved one who is physically or mentally unable to keep himself or herself clean, for they will see God.
- Blessed are those who help their loved one find moments of peace, for they will be called children of God.
- Blessed are those who are misunderstood, not appreciated, and taken for granted in their role as caregiver, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are those whose caregiving efforts are unjustly criticized—or who are falsely accused of not caring about others—because of your love for your care-receiver and your love for God, who has asked you to help His beloved son or daughter. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
The League is a proud supporter of the Canadian Blood Services Partners for Life program. New and regular blood donors are asked to consider registering for the program under the League’s unique partner identification number (CATH011269). Visit www.blood.ca/joinpartnersforlife for more information. Encourage members to donate and use the identification number.
Following is a step by step guide to registering as a member to your Partners for Life team:
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The Diocese has a video series on the Catholic Response to Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID), presenting Bishop William McGrattan, Dr. Eric Wasylenko and Fr. Cristino Bouvette. Both Bishop McGrattan and Dr Wasylenko presented on this subject at our 2018 Diocesan CWL Convention.
Moral Theology of Catholic Decision Making
The legalization of Euthanasia in Canada is of concern to all Catholics, not only those employed in the medical profession. As euthanasia (often termed Medical Assistance in Dying or MAID) involves the intentional taking of a person’s life, it presents a challenge for all who are committed to upholding the dignity of life and protecting the most vulnerable in our society. In a thoughtful and considered presentation which is of significance to all who are committed to living the Gospel message faithfully, Bishop William McGrattan of the Diocese of Calgary, Alberta, identifies the many spiritual concerns which flow from the legalization of euthanasia – including many you may not have previously considered.
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At the CWL 96th Annual Calgary Diocesan Convention, held at the Badlands Community Facility in Drumheller, Alberta from May 4, 5 & 6, 2018, over 150 members responded to two questions on supporting palliative care. The responses are varied and are important to share with all CWL members in the Diocese of Calgary. Some of these ideas presented are already being implemented by a council and some are planned for the future. All of our councils could consider attempting one or two, as we use this list to challenge ourselves and our councils. They are numbered, not to rank importance, but to make it easy for you to share your thoughts with others.
WAYS MY COUNCIL COULD SUPPORT HOSPICE PALLIATIVE CARE INITIATIVES IN OUR COMMUNITY:
- Prayer service for palliative persons.
- Participate on pastoral care team.
- Raise funds for palliative care.
- Take turns visiting.
- Offer a cross for a palliative care room.
- Advocate for mental health support for family.
- Donate comfort items.
- Donate personal items.
- Take sacraments to hospice.
- Offer to pray with a person when visiting.
- Pray as a council for palliative care.
- Visit and share a meal with person (if possible).
- Bring in a pet (if possible).
- Take person outside – walk or wheel around.
- Volunteer as a palliative care worker.
- Consider an annual donation to palliative care.
- Support the CWL initiative to lobby the government for better and more facilities for palliative care – write letters, send cards, participate in “12 hours of prayer for palliative care”.
- Provide spiritual support to a person – rosary, prayer cards, music, Divine Mercy Chaplet.
- Participate if the hospice in your community hosts an event for the public.
- Participate in education about palliative care (speakers, discussions, etc.) in your council, church and community
- Provide “treats” or cards of encouragement for staff of palliative care facilities, share appreciation.
- Sponsor a Mass of thanksgiving for those who serve in palliative care whether in a facility or in their homes.
- Make lap quilts or prayer shawls.
- Focus on those in care without family in the area.
- In 2’s or 3’s visit a palliative care centre.
- As a council, do a tour of a hospice (if possible).
- As a Council, make up a list of resources (211 can help) and have this list available for families with someone in palliative care or caregivers.
- We can publicly make our feelings as a large organization known.
- Speak about palliative care to family, friends, acquaintances, whenever the topic comes up. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
- Our Council makes “worry dolls” for Agape Hospice. Those are given to children as they visit either a parent or grandparent who is a patient.
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