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February 03, 1984 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-02-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

18 Friday, February 3, 1984

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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661-4937

Attitudes Toward Aged Need Changing

By RABBI ALLAN
BLUSTEIN

Chaplain, Sinai Hospital

It is natural for the aged

to be preoccupied with their
own deaths. By age 65 or 70,
one has come into contact
with death a great deal.
Very often the threat of
death is made even more
real by the death of one's
spouse, which can be one of
the biggest traumas for a
person to overcome. Often
this awareness of death eats
away at any desire there

might be to live.
With society constantly
reminding us that we're
"worthless," it is very easy
to despair, to think that
there is no purpuse in living
a meaningful life since
death is imminent.
But we needn't despair
even at a very old age. There
are ways to cope with and
adjust even to this stage of
aging. Psychologist Erik H.
Erikson suggests another
way:
"The constructive way

liappy&

of living in the late years
might be defined in this
way: To live so gener-
ously and unselfishly
that the prospect of per-
sonal death — the night of
the ego, it might be called
— looks and feels less im-
portant than the secure
knowledge that one has
built for a broader,
longer future than any
one ego could possibly.
encompass."
In other words, we should
not wait around to die but

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Alterations at cost at these prices!

should rather try to make
life more meaningful and
worthwhile, for ourselves
while we live and for those
whom we will leave behind.
In short, there is plenty
for us to do, in helping the
aged. The only thing we
really have to do is love
them. We might understand
a little bit more about their
needs and feelings if we
take these things into con-
sideration when we
encounter the aged. All they
really want is to be treated
with dignity and recogni-
tion that any human being
deserves.
They perhaps deserve
even more of our honor and
attention than other types
of people. So in general, the
advice is v'ahavta l're'akha
kamokha, simply love the
older person as you would
have him/her love you.

Perhaps the place
where the aged need the
most help and considera-
tion is within our own
family. Chances are great
that we have an aging
parent, grandparent,
aunt, uncle or other rela-
tion within our family.
Give this person our time
and energy. Recognize
the changes and adjust-
ments that they are going
through. We should em-
pathize but not pity,
understand but not con-
descend.

Just listing is really the
greatest gift that we can be-
stow on an aging person. If
we are bothered by the fact
that all our grandfather
seems to want to do is talk
about the same old stuff, so
why not listen for a change!
Really show some interest
for the aged have a lifetime
of wisdom to teach us.

Let's open our ears and
hearts to them and ask
them about their childhood
or what it was like to be one
of the only Jews in Sioux
City, Iowa, or to grow up in
an anti-Semitic neighbor-
hood in New Jersey.
Aged relations will love
us for taking the time to
ask; it will fill them with life
anew to know that someone
really cares about them.
And we'll probably enrich
our own life in the process.
Don't be afraid of silence.
It could be that our physical
presence alone will fill a gap
in the aged person's life.

Jewish Education
Topic of Articles

NEW YORK (JTA) —
Three Jewish educators
place the blame for poor
quality Jewish education in
America squarely on the
parents of students in part-
time Jewish schools.
The indictments appear
in two articles in the fall,
1983 issue of the Women's
League Outlook, the official
publication of the associa-
tion of Conservative sister-
hoods. One article is by
former Detroiter Dr. Jay
Stern, a past president of
the Jewish Educators As-
sembly. The other is by
Elaine Shalowitz and Molly
Schuchat.

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