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January 14, 2019 12:00 pm
This week on Family Policy Matters, NC Family President John Rustin talks with Dr. Frank Moncher, a clinical psychologist and consultant for the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia and Catholic Charities USA. Dr. Moncher speaks to the struggles many adults experience in caring for their aging and infirmed parents, and addresses the growing trend of assisted suicide. Furthermore, Dr. Moncher offers insight towards how our faith both influences our view of suffering, and guides us through a difficult period of life.
We have done in Canada may be in Primitive well that some suffering occur for reasons that are not immediately evident, and so to hasten a death or try to avoid all suffering may not actually this is family policy numbers. A weekly radio show and Comcast from see family designed to better inform listeners about the critical issues of the day and encourage you to be voices of persuasion for family values in your community and now your host and see family Pres. John Weston thank you for joining us for family policy matters is the baby boomer generation ages more and more American families are facing the sometimes overwhelming prospect of making difficult decisions regarding end-of-life medical care for their parents or grandparents. Our guest today is Dr. Frank mantra, licensed clinical psychologist and consultant for the diocese of Arlington, Virginia, and Catholic charities. He is told both undergraduate and graduate studies in psychology, particularly focusing on the integration of psychology with the Catholic Christian view of the human person. Dr. Mosher has published journal articles, book chapters and blog posts on a number of topics related to children family in religion including writing for the culture of life foundation about how families can support suffering elders Dr. Martin walking the family policy matters. It's great to have you on the show now Dr. Mosher.
As I mentioned in my introduction, a growing number of adults in America today are being confronted with how to best care for elderly parents and/or grandparents who are nearing the final stages of life.
No doubt these are difficult times and difficult situations that raised a series of difficult questions and challenges.
What kind of trends or changes have you seen in American culture. In recent years regarding how our nation is caring for the elderly, with equipment going on nationally for probably decades now is an increased sense of independence of children from their family.
Technology has allowed us to move about more freely.
It's rarer and rarer that children are living close to their aging parents, and so we've got a loss of what was the time-honored tradition of families being close together. Parents maybe aging within one community close to their third then middle age children who would be available to care for them, and now we've got a situation where you aging parents may be living quite a distance from any of their children and so I think that those present new challenges.
Stay well. I think that makes tremendous amount of sense as mobile as our society is clearly those tight bonds in an Cisco locality that used to exist more and more just all or not there is much today. Now Dr. mantra you've written about the way in which verbal engineering leads to social engineering and which certainly rings about changes within our culture talk about this a little bit if you would sort of explain that idea and then describe how these factors have impacted our society's perspective toward the elderly and infirm and the role of families in providing care for them. Yet, their 30s become infected and challenging way to think by alternative use of the human person and that the Christian view of the human person.
Of course, is pretty clear and straightforward young man was created as male and female. Life is a gift which comes with certain responsibilities of the family is the primary social unit and has great meaning. These ideas are radically different than some of what we see in society. In the classic example would be when it comes to the issue of abortion where your language has changed how people get to see the killing of an innocent life, and that the labor force was being pro-choice and choice of who could argue with that and were seeing a similar thing happening in this ideal, caring for elders at the end of life you what was called euthanasia or mercy killing, and then has morphed into physician-assisted suicide and now suicide is apparently a bit too harsh and so there's this kind of changing of the language and now to calling the same idea of hastening the death of an elderly person as medical aid and compassion and I think it's it's this that we need to be fearful of because it really puts the wrong idea into people's minds about what's happening in the hospital situation that's so true, and I think as you pointed out, we see that it's kind of he who controls the language controls the debate and lots of circumstances and lots of arenas in our culture, and this is clearly one of those. In addition to the language, how have you seen the good intentions of psych family members and physicians who want to alleviate the suffering that elderly individuals may be experiencing how of those good intentions sometimes lead down the dark path of hastening death why I'm glad you liked the idea of a good intention because we don't want to speak about things that happen at the end of life. When loved ones are suffering as if most people are callous, you know that there are good intentions. There and yet people can become confused and sorting through what to do when death is imminent. You know it, and when it's time to let go of a loved one whose the end of their natural life is coming in extraordinary efforts of any sort really are going to prolong the life and us can do damage or certainly not too good versus allowing a person to live with some element of suffering because their life still does have meaning, and that isn't imminent. If if there well cared for. Dr. mantra. How can relatives particularly adult children be well prepared to assist their elderly or ill loved ones in making medical decisions when that time comes I like to think of this in terms of our understanding again is a Christian view of the human person and of course we are made with free will and with inherent dignity and it's important to honor the dignity of the aging person or the infirm person by discussing with them earlier rather than later. What their desires are. You know it's very difficult to do that in the midst of a crisis or once things had gone to deteriorate the best recommendation that I've read is that you in that discussion with the person who might be facing a demise at some point is to have them designate in what some time cotton agent or surrogate to this process, called a durable problem power of attorney.
As someone who they trust to understand the didn't give human life understand what our Christian faith teaches us about how to manage things. At the end of life and how if suffering is not always a bad thing I notice other mechanisms for doing this that are more quickly done checking boxes and signing forms but with technology and medical treatment changing the way it is. I didn't think you really want to have someone you know cares about you being your spokesperson up in your life. Are there certain instruments that you would suggest that elderly individuals may consult with their children or loved ones about that could help them express what their desires or if they are in an end-of-life situation that there is certainly things available that can guide you through how to do these types of directives but there's some cautions out there because some these instruments have gotten very popular, but they've been endorsed by what used to be called the Hemlock Society and outcome compassion and choices.
They tried to move towards some forms that really at the end of today are going to hasten many people step and so there's probably no substitute for having someone you trust me able to engage in the dialogue with with the doctors and physicians when the time comes right think having those what can be difficult decisions that really necessary discussions about the types of care that those individuals desiring the level of care and things of that nature listening to the radio show and ground you can sign up to receive and to listen to the show online.
Namely, now Dr. mantra.
What are some of the most common obstacles that you see to patients and families making good ethical and compassionate decisions related to medical care and treatment for the elderly is generally centered around the idea of fear suffering or misunderstanding of suffering in, not realizing that the time of death is really in God's hands, and that this is been something that God knows before and to fear suffering to to great extent, or to misunderstand it can really get in the way we have to understand that it may be in God's permissive well that some suffering occur for reasons that are not immediate we evident in so to hasten adapter to try to avoid all suffering which often times would be the argument made by the groups that are campaigning for euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide edited to avoid all suffering may not actually be the best thing about that that may be in the sense of palliative care and hospice care in the role that those types of care can play in ensuring that individuals who are suffering do experience a dignified natural and ethical death. Those types of care I think are crucial that it it's so important to recognize that the flipside that you just because there is some merit in joining our suffering with the suffering of Christ doesn't mean we should not make available to loved ones every possible relief in palliative care medicine has grown enormously in its ability to provide relief from suffering without hastening death. Now all sometimes I know that relatives who go through with a parent or grandparent end-of-life situation can feel regret or concern that they may not have done an offer they may not have done the right things and that can really lead to a long-standing sense of of regret or concern. What can relatives do to guard against being left with a sense of regret.
As a result of a feeling like they haven't done enough or maybe didn't do the right things for a loved one who is in an end-of-life situation. It is very very difficult situations and partly what would be recommended. The ideas we talked about before where you having the difficult but I think very necessary conversation before things get too far down the path of looking at what the needs, wants and desires of someone might be on this.
Not a lot of research on what happens to those who are left behind when there's an assisted suicide it throughout the new phenomena, but the upload from other research.
I suspect that you can parallel what we call complicated bereavement notes can be a longer healing process. Grieving process and at the end of the day. The family is going to have to come to terms with the family member who may have been lost through assisted suicide with some aspect of forgiveness and trying to just come to terms with the understanding that that people make decisions sometimes without all the information available into defined weight foster healing among relatives who remain behind. Well Dr. mantra just about out of time for this week.
But before we go I want to give you an opportunity to let our listeners know where they could get more information about navigating these difficult medical and end-of-life situations we been talking about today and also learn more about your work.
What work I've done that led to our talk today is to the culture of life foundation, which is a nonprofit organization devoted to trying to help people understand what can be quite complicated issues around the culture of life that are important for everyone to understand and so we try to translate that into two brief articles that kind of get to the point as quickly as possible and if you want more information on the size references included in the articles that can take them toward detail resources of the work I've done there is supported by there's some other Christian bioethicist to have written it more extensively on end-of-life issues. Dr. Christian Brewer and Dr. William Mae in particular, now would encourage you to look about both of their articles on the culture of life foundation website culture of life.org weight will find much more information. Okay will greatly thank you for that.
Now that web address again is culture of life.org again culture – of – life.org and listeners. If you find yourself in a situation where you're caring for a loved one who is in the and end-of-life circumstance. Please avail yourself of this and other helpful information. These can be difficult times in difficult circumstances. But as we as believers apply love and truth and grace in the midst of these challenging circumstances, I think we can truly experience a deeper level of love and care not only our love and care for loved ones in their care and love for us, but also that of our heavenly father.
So please take advantage of these valuable bits of information and Dr. Frank monster I want to thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us today on family policy, you have been listening to family policy weekly radio show and Comcast from see family to listen to the show online for more resources that will help you be a voice of persuasion in your community. Go to our website and see family.org and less on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter