Faith Community and Care for the Elderly

The concern for and about the elderly has deep roots, as witnessed in the Book of Psalms: “Do not forsake me in my old age” (Ps. 70, 19-20). Historically, services for the elderly have not taken many forms. Thus, tribal care was supplemented by dependence on the family, which in some countries is still the primary source of help for the elderly. For example, in countries like USA volunteers and families offer eighty percent of the help to the elderly. Families with elderly people themselves often need help. There is an aphorism reading that two parents can support eight children, but eight children cannot support one parent. In other cultures families are helped by church groups, guilds, humanitarian organizations and self-help groups, among others. The paper tries to look into the problem of elderly and their dignity of “image and likeness of God” in Romania, provide an analysis of those situations in which they are being either neglected or humiliated by a society of fast changes, that tends to abandon them behind. They do not move, do not emigrate, have no power to strike, claim or start again, but often suffer in silence. It is a psychological and social trauma to move someone in his/her old age from his/her house into an institutional home for elderly. They need to “age in place” and be provided with decent living, less work, suitable living conditions and love from the community. Does the answer come from religious communities? If so, how far can they go? They need care-workers, especially in rural areas where the elderly tend to be sicker and more disabled than their urban counterparts.