End of life assistance to the elderly, theme of the 21st assembly of the Pontifical Council pro Vita

Vatican City, 24 February 2015 (VIS) – The Pontifical Academy pro Vita will dedicate its upcoming general assembly to end of life assistance to the elderly. The assembly, which will take place in the New Synod Hall from 5 to 7 March, is the 21st to be held by this institution, and the official theme is “Assisting the Elderly and Palliative Care”.

During the assembly, on 6 March, there will be a workshop open to the public, especially scholars, healthcare and pastoral workers, and students who are interested in acquiring a deeper knowledge of the theme from a number of viewpoints: theological-philosophical, ethical and medical, cultural and social.

In the first session of the Workshop, “Clinical care for the elderly at the end of life”, following a brief general introduction to the theme by Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, president of the Pontifical Academy pro Vita, a number of specific issues will be considered, such as medical care for the elderly with chronic degenerative illlnesses, the use and abuse of analgesics in palliative care, nursing care for the terminally ill, and clinical decision-making processes for the elderly at the end of life.

The second session will be dedicated to ethical and anthropological perspectives, and will focus on the central role of relationships with the elderly in family, social and hospital contexts, and guidelines for accompanying the elderly as they near death, with respect for their dignity and avoiding any form of abandonment or euthanasia.

The day will conclude with the analysis of socio-cultural perspectives. The third session will be dedicated to the spirituality of the elderly in later year, legal aspects of the end of life, pastoral care and the role of the family, ending with the question, “What is social solidarity?”.

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