Editorial: Ageing Gracefully – Dr Eleasa Sieh

A call for leadership, guidance, research, and thinking


from Luke’s Journal 2020 | Ageing Gracefully | Vol.25 No.3

Hour glass sitting on a beachside rock with the sun setting behind it

This issue of Luke’s Journal comes at the end of a year that has shaken and sifted us all, with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the COVID-19 pandemic having swept across the globe, crossing international boundaries, and affecting all cultures and ages, including the loss of nearly 1.2 million lives at the time of writing this editorial.1 

Among those who have lost their lives this year, the majority have, unsurprisingly, been those aged 70 and above.2 It is this cohort in our societies who have been the focus of global public health guidelines on lockdowns of nursing home facilities. Facing strict no-visitor policies even at the end of life, and feeling the extent of suffering is aptly captured by the Italian word “straziante”, defined as “a very acute physical or moral pain, beyond any capacity for tolerance”.3 

Closer to home, poor systems of care have been exposed with the recent Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The needs of the vulnerable and the frail continue to lie at the mercies of systems and institutions. These needs will exponentially increase, as the Australian Bureau of Statistics documents a rise over the last 20 years that is projected to exponentially continue over the next decade.4 

There is a clear need for leadership, guidance, research, and thinking into the care of this growing populace. Deeper than the statistics, there is the existential question of whether there is truth to what C.S. Lewis calls the “best part of life” – is autumn truly the best of the seasons before winter’s inevitable arrival?

“I would like everything to be immemorial – to have the same old horizons, the same garden, the same smells and sounds, always there, changeless. Autumn is really the best of the seasons: and I’m not sure that old age isn’t the best part of life. But of course, like autumn, it doesn’t last.”
– C.S. Lewis

The Christian doctrine of the Imago Dei – that each human being is born imprinted with the image of God – provides the unique undergirding exemplified in this issue’s collection of articles and reflections. This issue is dedicated to this cohort of individuals who are part of us, whether ourselves, or those we daily interact with in our work, our spouses, our parents, our extended family members, our fellow church members, and our neighbours. 

In this issue, you will read reflections on ageing and living with disabilities that arise from ageing, from medical professionals and aged-care pastoral care workers, as well as a registered nurse and priest and associate professor in theology. You will find a poem dedicated to the singular uniqueness of a farmer’s wife, learn about Dignity Therapy, and enter into the realities of journeying with a spouse living with dementia as a medical professional.

My hope is that this issue would cause you to find meaning and purpose, or joy and peace, and even hope, for the autumn of ageing that we must all face, and discover that there is a practical and tangible reality to Ageing Gracefully.

In the grace of Christ,

Eleasa Sieh
On behalf of the Luke’s Journal editorial team.

Dr Eleasa Sieh  – Editor
Dr Eleasa Sieh is a Canadian-born Chinese permanent
resident of Australia, and works as a general practitioner
on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. 

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  1. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
  2. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-age-sex-demographics/ 
  3. https://www.economist.com/europe/2020/03/26/in-italy-the-coronavirus-steals-even-the-last-farewell
  4. https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/population/national-state-and-territory-population/latest-release