By Diana Oosteerbeek-Latoza

Most of the participants who attended the “Last Phase of Life” sessions were seniors and were aware of the importance of talking about this topic. They were glad there was a venue wherein they could  express what they felt about this confronting issue. In this way they will be encouraged to expand more questions bothering them and will be guided where to go for help. This sort of information session will prepare them eventually for the “ levenseinde fase.”

During the session we had last October 29, 2019  the participants were open expressing their ideas about it but at the same time they were very much confronted by the reality of life as one goes older. There were 10 participants in this session. When asked where they wanted to be buried when their end comes, 4 answered, in the Philippines, 5 in The Netherlands and 1 did not know.  One wanted to be cremated, 7 would like to be buried, and two did not know.  When asked if the time comes when they cannot any more take care of themselves, 10 answered they wanted to stay home and avail the health care that goes with it. Nobody would like to go to the institutions. According to them, they saw how elderly people are treated. The caretakers have limited time to talk to them because they have many patients to take care with. Due to these limitations the patients have nobody to talk to and feel so lonely that they deteriorate and eventually die. Of course not all care homes for the elderly have this situtation. One should look for care homes with good reputation. 

Finally the women realized that :

  1. They have to talk with their partners and children about their needs and wishes as to where they want to be buried, the kind of funeral they want, and to clarify what to do in case one of the partners especially their own partner will pass away ahead of them.
  2. To express their wishes where to stay and what to do when their health fails.
  3. To prepare a testament to clarify things about their property, inheritance, etc. 

In this way they will not burden their surviving family. 

There was so much interest with this topic that we held again another information session last  November 19, 2019. Twenty Filipino seniors attended ( 18 women and two men) 

Last February 2020, a session making use of the letter writing  method ( schrijf een brief aan uw naasten) was held in Dona Daria, Rotterdam.  Eleven women, mostly members of the Bayanihan Seniors Core Group joined. 

Talking about the last phase in life is still a taboe and difficult to most people.  But whether we like it or not all of us will be going to that phase sooner or later. So let’s prepare early .The end-of-life journey is eased considerably when conversations regarding placement, treatment and end-of-life wishes like spiritual practices and memorial traditions  are expressed as early as possible. The following topics were specifically discussed namely 1. What are my wishes and how I see my life 2. My family – I consider it important that my family should know about what I think about this last phase of life. 3. Decision making – my wishes and choices written in this letter should be followed ( explanation). Indeed it was confronting to write such a letter but it was positively taken by everybody. They were relieved that they could could express their desires and feelings in the form of letter writing. 

These information sessions were facilitated by Diana Ooosterbeek-Latoza, social cultural worker and also founding chairperson of Stichting Bayanihan. She is also a a NOOM voolichter.The resource person for the October and November 2019 information sessions was Anafel Miggelenbrink, a Filipina geriatry nurse working with  the Verzorgingshuis ( Care home for the elderly), Innoforte and  specializing in Dementia. She is also a core volunteer of Stichting Bayanihan.  

Stichting Bayanihan is involved in the projects of NOOM, Network of Organizations of Senior Migrants in the Netherlands.  Recently NOOM was given the task by the Dutch government to implement the cultural specific aspect programme to improve the situation of the senior migrants.