[Province of Curitiba – Brazil] The Pastoral Care to Elderly People was founded in 2004 and is an organization linked to the National Conference of Bishops in Brazil (CNBB), with headquarters in the city of Curitiba, state of Paraná, Brazil. Its main goal is a monthly home visit in which we can accompany elderly people in vulnerable situations due to physical fragility or poverty, abandonment, loneliness. Several activities are developed that value the elderly person in her/his familiar context providing information about health, defense of his/her rights, prevention of abuse and violence against the elderly.
This year the Pastoral Care to Elderly People celebrates 10 years of foundation commemorating its expansion in the whole country. It is present in all states of Brazil, in 834 municipalities (17% of all Brazilian municipalities); in 4,635 small communities; in 1,327 parishes (12%); in 187 dioceses (71%) and accompanies a monthly average of 140,640 elderly. 113,231 families are visited monthly by 18,080 community leaders who are volunteers trained to carry out this mission of faith committed to the neighbor.
Since the beginning, this ministry has been accompanied by the Daughters of Charity of various Provinces of Brazil. And since 2010 it has been coordinated at the national level by a Daughter of Charity of the Province of Curitiba, a ministry entrusted to her by the Presidency of the CNBB, in agreement with the Visitatrix and her Council.
The celebration of 10 years of Pastoral Care to the Elderly brought a new stimulus and conviction that we cannot stop our mission. “May each community accompany with loving understanding those who grow old,” a phrase written by a frail elderly person on the eve of his death (St. John Paul II) in January 2005. It drives us to persevere and to have confidence that, little by little, the Brazilian society and especially those who are in charge of public power and resources will realize how much we need to invest in this area. As Pope Francis said: “There will be neither harmony nor happiness for a society that ignores, that leaves to the margins, that abandons to the periphery a part of itself”.
Today in Brazil there are more than 25 million people over 60 years old (12% of the population). Within this universe, the number that increases most is those who are over 80 years old, just the very ones who become fragile. Unfortunately the Brazilian society is not prepared for this rapidly increasing aging phenomenon and there are not enough investments and services to support these people and their families. The services that are available today are the same that have been for 100 years: traditional nursing homes, now called Long Term Care Institutions for the Elderly.
A survey in 2008 by the Secretariat for Human Rights revealed that less than 0.5% of the elderly population is living in institutions. Therefore, 99.5% is at home (on their own or living with relatives), which justifies the need to invest more in the Pastoral Care to the Elderly which is dedicated exclusively to accompany those more fragile elderly in their homes and in the poorest communities of our country.
Sr. Terezinha Tortelli, DC