One person you never hear talking about retirement is the Pope—
However, Pope Benedict XVI, former leader of the Roman Catholic Church uttered words that hadn't been heard in the Vatican in over six centuries, "I renounce the ministry of the Bishop of Rome."
Translation: I quit.
The Pope, at age 85, cited his advanced age as the reason for his resignation.
"In today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith…both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the past few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me," he said.
The last Pope to voluntarily surrender the position of supreme pontiff was Gregory XII, in 1415.
As with all public figures, Benedict had been both maligned and praised since he donned the Papal Tiara in 2005. Public reaction to his most recent pronouncement was no different.
Some viewed the decision as an unofficial act of surrender to the cloud of controversy that enveloped him. Others applauded Benedict for his humility and foresight. Many speculated that underlying health issues such as dementia, or another form of terminal illness, played a role in the pronouncement.
The true reasons for the Pope's resignation will likely remain a mystery to all but a select few. But his actions provide a compelling example for people worldwide, regardless of age or creed.
Throughout our lives, we all face countless questions that begin with, "When is it time…?"
When is it time to start a family? When is it time to buy a house? When is it time to search for a new job?
If you're taking care of an elderly loved one, these questions take on a particular poignancy:
- When is it time for an elder to get extra help at home?
- When is it time to take away the car keys from my aging parent?
- When is it time to buy long-term care insurance?
- When is it time for a senior to move into assisted living?
- When is it time to contact hospice for someone who is dying?
A family caregiver can (and should) seek guidance and counsel from experts, friends and other family members. The problem is that, while others may be able to offer guidelines and general tips, there're no go-to answers for any of these questions.
As demonstrated by Pope Benedict's historic decision, each of us must learn how to trust our instincts and ultimately decide for ourselves how to answer, "When is it time to…?"