Billy Tytaneck, a Canadian, was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at the age of 12 years old. From that point, Billy had suffered the usual symptoms associated with Crohn’s- diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramps. As Billy got older, his condition got worse and worse. At age 25, Billy was facing bowel removal surgery. Not wanting the surgery, Billy thought there must be a better way. There was.Billy, age 25, read about clinical trials that used Adult Stem Cells to treat Crohn’s Disease in the United States that were helping patients. However, there was no way to get treatment in Canada. Billy took it upon himself to approach a doctor in Canada involved in Adult Stem Cell research who had successfully treated Multiple Sclerosis and Lupus patients with stem cell therapy and asked the doctor to treat him for Crohn’s Disease.Luckily for Billy, the doctor agreed. In February, 2008, Billy Tytaneck became the first person ever in Canada to be treated with his own Adult Stem Cells for his Crohn’s Disease.Since receiving his own stem cells in the therapy, Billy’s life has made a 180 degree turn. He is feeling better than ever since he was diagnosed with Crohn’s at age 12. Billy says he can go out now and not have to worry about his Crohn’s acting up. Billy is now working as a mechanical engineer at a company. It wasn’t possible for him to work outside before receiving his own Adult Stem Cells.Billy also says although he isn’t perfect yet, he has reduced his long list of medications to only one and says he is still improving.Billy wants it to be known that Adult Stem Cell therapy is an option for other Crohn’s Disease sufferers and hopes to create more awareness for it so it may be an option for patients in similar circumstances.
IntroductionFrom the earliest days of human history all indications are that life expectancies were relatively short. The few who reached “old age,” bearing the subsequent restrictions associated with it, were viewed a disadvantage in families that frequently valued utility over mortality. However, with the advent of efficient agricultural methods and the consequent stability of food supplies, humankind learned to survive with longer and healthier lives, alleviating some of society’s systemic prejudices toward chronologically advanced individuals.According to historical records, sometime around 4000 BC, a significant segment of the population began to attain “old age” in certain regions of the world such as Mesopotamia. Agriculture not only provided steady food supplies extending chronological longevity, but also helped to encourage a view of elder adults as economically beneficial. Increasingly counted upon to perform various family functions such as teaching the young and overseeing unencumbering tasks, they found themselves “needed.” While the general zeitgeist and societal view towards elder adults waxed and waned during civilization’s early development, the historical mention of this segment of the population was relatively sparse. In the words of social historian, David Hackett Fischer,
Aging is a topic that has almost been totally ignored by historians. The condition of neglect will not continue. Old age is likely to become a subject of much interest to the ‘new’ social historians-partly because they themselves are beginning to grow old, but mostly because it lies at the intersection of many major questions in the field, about the family, about the life-cycle, stratification, welfare, and many other things.A significant development in the study of aging came from Persia in the eleventh century A. D. when a physician named Avicenna wrote a book entitled, The Canon of Medicine, in 1025. As a portent into modern academic studies of gerontology and geriatrics, Avicenna included material that prescribed certain health habits to encourage elder persons to preserve their diminishing strength.At about this time in medieval Europe, inimical sentiments towards the elderly prevailed although perspicuous mention is sparse. Donald O. Cowgill of the American Academy of Political and Social Science attributes the reduction in respect and veneration for elder members in Western societies due to industrial and economic factors. With the arrival of the Renaissance, old age returned to favor, as celebrated individuals like Michelangelo and Andrea Doria came to epitomize the ideals of living long, active, and prolific lives.Between the sixteenth century and the third quarter of the twentieth century, Western ideas about aging underwent a fundamental transformation, spurred by the development of modern society. Ancient and medieval understandings of aging as a mysterious part of the eternal order of things gradually gave way to the secular, scientific, and individualistic tendencies of modernity. By the mid-twentieth century, older people were moved to society’s margins and defined primarily as patients or pensioners.It would come much later, during the era of the Industrial Revolution, that Westerners would embrace a more socialized, collective system of care for the elder aged. Though often little more than almshouses, so-called “care homes” began to appear in the 1800s scattered throughout Europe. By the 1930s the Social Security Act in the United States began to provide compensated care for many older Americans. Consequently, over the past 170 years, in countries with the highest life expectancies, the average life span of adults has increased at a rate of 2.5 years per decade, or about six hours per day. Thus, while the communal value of elder life has fluctuated over the years, its chronological extension has steadily grown.The underlying allergy towards aging remains prevalent in most western societies where confronting the issues related to it are often ignored until necessity requires our attention. This project and its ensuing paper looks at the necessity of caring for the fellowship and spiritual needs of elder adults beginning at the local level of church ministry.An Aging PopulationWhile most American churches continue to focus on youth programs and reaching out to younger generations, this customary emphasis has come at the cost of neglecting the fastest-growing segment of contemporary society. Certainly we need youth ministries and children’s programs as much, if not more than ever, but as statistics increasingly indicate, we just as urgently need an imperious plan for the intentional integration of older adults, especially confined adults, into the regular life of churches.As we age, increasing disability and loss of mobility often lead to a decline in social networks and support. The result is greater isolation and decline in mental health and quality of life. Interventions such as socialization, day care centers and senior centers are in part constructed to alleviate and delay such isolation through group activities and maintaining a social engagement with friends, family, and social volunteerism. But there comes a time, after a protracted illness, a stroke or some other life event–often an acute health problem–when many elderly people find themselves prohibited from continuing to participate in their social groups.With the onset of the third millennium since Christ, care for the elderly has become an ever-more pressing societal demand. Christian communities have the unique opportunity to lead out in addressing the needs of elder adults, beginning with those listed on their church rolls. Jesus, the literal analogia fidei, set the scriptural standard in Matt. 5:16 when he told his disciples to “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Augustine commented on this verse saying, “That light shines as the result of bodily service, so that it is presented to believers through their embodied ministry.” Christ’s light shining through an embodied, “incarnational” ministry is an emphasis worthy of any church’s consideration. What follows is one church’s odyssey into the ambitious endeavor to meet the demands of an aging population by intentionally serving its senior adult members, specifically its homebound and local nursing home residents, as incarnational ambassadors of Christ.An Age Wave”Where there is no prophetic vision,” says Prov. 29:8, “the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” Do we really know what we are doing when it comes to ministering to the elderly among us? Based on available U.S. census data, the fastest-growing segment of our nation’s contemporary population is people eighty-five years of age and older. Due to such debilitating factors as ambulatory constraints, diminished eye sight, and various other physical impairments, these citizens find themselves unable to get away from home without a great deal of highly specialized (and often expensive) assistance. Among adults, aged seventy-five years and older, about 10% require the help of another person to accomplish activities for daily living (ADLs), such as dressing and eating. Another 19% require assistance with “instrumental” activities for daily living (IADLs), such as shopping and money management. In a 1996 Geriatric Society study of 878 non-institutionalized persons, 10.3% were classified as homebound aged sixty-eight years and older. The study went on to conclude that being homebound statistically favors women, widowhood, depression, strokes, and inadequate social support.According to a 2005 report, “Caregiving families (families in which at least one member has a disability) have median incomes that are more than 50% below that of non-caregiving families and in every state the poverty rate is higher among families with members with a disability than among families without.” Such findings are not surprising as much as they are disturbing. The economic disparity associated with the numbers of homebound and nursing home residents continues to stretch American families in difficult directions. The resolution for this imbalance has less to do with government action than with employing families to work together with churches to share the responsibilities of elder care.The need for trained volunteers to involve seniors in Christian service statistically speaks for itself. Intentionally utilizing active listening skills and practical ministry techniques for moral and spiritual edification, these invaluable seniors can be included as active, albeit off-site, members of local congregations. By virtue of their inclusion, the local church’s overall awareness of senior needs will not only increase, but will lead to a better working relationship in the community.The following facts are important for churches and ministers to consider in determining their ministry stratagem. The combination of contemporary lower birth and death rates means that the senior adult population will potentially double that of children by the midcentury. The United Nations Population Division reported in 1999 that there were 593 million persons aged sixty years or over, comprising 10% of the world’s population. By 2050, demographic prognosticators predict that this figure will triple to nearly two billion older persons, comprising 22% of the world’s population. While these statistics do not necessarily suggest an epic Malthusian crisis, the numbers are nonetheless astounding. Win and Charles Arn, report the following statistics: Senior citizens in the United States, which are sixty-five years and older outnumber the entire population of Canada. Since 1900, the median age of America’s population has risen by ten years, and since 1950, the number of Americans living over the age of one hundred has multiplied more than ten times. Demographers project that by 2020 senior adults, sixty-five plus in the United States will represent more than 17% of the nation’s population.We might call these staggering statistics the rumblings of an “agequake” that is shaking the very foundations of everything we thought we knew about our national demography. The aggregate number of senior adults in the United States, sixty-five and older, numbered 37.9 million as of 2007, up by more than 11% in just the last ten years. Sadly, about eleven million persons considered “non-institutionalized” and over sixty-five years of age live alone and about eight million of them are women.These figures, along with the self-evident aging of our own congregation at Calvary Baptist Church, inspired a practical, yet far-reaching ministry stratagem to leverage our existing resources to meet the needs of an ever-growing elder adult population. In hopes of avoiding a “tsunami of negligence,” Calvary set out to extend a Christ-like love towards those generations who have so faithfully served us in the past.Motivated by LoveA basic problem for some seniors in Calvary’s membership was a fundamental inability to attend weekly worship services due to immobility, poor health, and institutionalization. Taking the church’s ministry into the homes and hospital rooms of our members was a practical means of including them in the fellowship of our local congregation. Such is a homebound ministry based on the sound theological expectations of a caring God utilizing his church to meet the demands of an aging population. Theoretically, such outreach is crucial in keeping up with the challenges of a growing church membership and a transitioning city population.”The church does not serve the poor, infirm, or isolated elderly so much as it is called to a common life with them,” writes Roman Catholic theologian, David Matzko McCarthy. “Breaking bread, breaking the bonds of isolation, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the imprisoned are aspects of the church’s call to be God’s people.” The motivation for Calvary’s service came from grateful hearts that longed to minister as Christ, as if he was in our place serving the needs of others. Along with a prominent theological theme of incarnational ministry, the key in senior adult ministry is “inclusion” as an acknowledgment of the fact that many of today’s homebound prospects were at one time active church members. The project’s emphasis was not to serve out of pity or to assuage some collective guilt, but to advance God’s agenda using the theological concept of incarnational ministry and the biblical idea of missional living.”God’s love imposes the obligation of reciprocal love and the related obedience and loyalty.”
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