Aging with a handicap

Maximilian Buchka, Professor of Education Sciences, mainly teaching curative education and social therapy at the NRW Catholic College at Cologne. He has published a number of works, including “Older people with special needs” Ernst Reinhardt Press, Munich.

Ever since my first meeting with anthroposophical social therapy, I have appreciated the exchanges I have had with its representatives. These discussions are always open and interesting. It is never a question of overcoming ideological differences, but of working together to better understand people with special needs in order to accompany and support them properly. This fruitful collaboration manifests itself outwardly by the annual meetings organised jointly by the anthroposophical training centres and the state colleges, that provide a place for exchange between students and specialists.

Autonomy and biography are essential.

Anthroposophical curative education creates living spaces for people with special needs, especially village communities or other forms of accommodation that all have one thing in common: everyone is accepted and valued unreservedly. Their spiritual, social and physical needs are the first order of business. Their accompaniment, protection and support are all focussed on the development of their competences in ways that foster their autonomy and participation in society as best as possible. The aim is to help them to accept their biography and thereby find their own way and meaning in life. In anthroposophical social therapy, the most important elements are the various artistic activities, life-long training and the creation of living situations that support them in their life journey.

Hope of life in difficult conditions.

For several dozen years, anthroposophical social therapy has concerned itself in an intensive and exemplary way with the aging of people with special needs. For them too, the passage from an active life to retirement is often associated with difficulties in adapting to new conditions, which present those who look after them with new and unusual challenges. This social therapeutic approach to growing old rests on three pillars: balanced judgement of the past circumstances, overcoming problems in the present moment, and judicious organisation regarding the future, that is to say, old age. It also involves touching questions concerning death and dying, reflecting on them carefully. Anthroposophical social therapy consultants: for older people with special needs, for their friends and for many institutions, this has become an indispensable professional aid. 

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