Building New Perspectives on Abundant Living Through the End of Life

Oct. 12 marked the third annual Symposium for United Church Homes’ Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging. Over 200 people attended this extraordinary day of learning that included topics around end-of-life care. Dr. Ira Byock, a leading palliative care physician, author and public advocate for improving care through the end of life, led the day with presentations featuring Surprising Opportunities for Well-being through End of Life and What Mortality has to Teach Us About Living.

Dr. Byock shared excerpts from his book Four Things That Matter Most that are communication tools critically important and extremely powerful at the pivotal time of an individual’s life: “I am sorry,” “I forgive you,” “Thank you” and “I love you.” From his over 40 years in hospice and palliative care, Dr. Byock shared engaging stories from individuals who found deeper meaning in life and relationships in their final months. These four simple phrases are part of a widely adopted approach palliative, hospice and pastoral care programs use to guide people in living, and dying, abundantly.

Our intent for the afternoon of the Symposium was to feature a spectrum
of interfaith panelists to share their unique perspectives on end-of-life
care. Four faith communities were represented: Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish and Christian with panelists Dr. Asma Mobin-Uddin, Rabbi Wendy Ungar, Kathy Sesley and David Ball. The discussion was engaging and revealed to us how various faith perspectives, with their unique practices, are spiritually more alike than different during end-of-life care.

United Church Homes’ Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging was launched in 2016 to recognize United Church Homes’ most generous benefactor. This Center for Abundant Aging seeks to bring together current theory and practice in the fields of gerontology, geriatrics, spirituality and aging, healthcare, housing and public policy. The Center provides a forum for interdisciplinary learning and collaboration that promotes innovation, advancement of knowledge and improvement of the quality of life for elders through advocacy, education, engagement and outreach.

As we are committed to serving “the whole person” at United Church Homes, we invite you to continue the conversation with us about the way we think about aging. Please plan to join us at the Symposium next year on Oct.11, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio, when we will have the opportunity to hear Joseph Couglin, PhD, founder and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, and hear about The Promise of Technology for Aging Abundantly.