One of the ways to break stereotypes about aging and change the view that people hold about the later years is to draw attention to those who are doing amazing and meaningful things with their second-half.
Jane Gross in Next Avenue’s E-Newsletter recently wrote a great piece about an 85-year old woman who graduated from college this year and landed her dream job accompanying a doctor on house calls to work with the elderly. Read more
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently put out a report on binge drinking. Noted in the report is that the age group that binge drinks the most often is the 65+ age group.
This should cause us to stop and consider a couple of things: Read more
Nearly every Sunday, (and Christmas morning was no exception) our family worships and serves at a retirement community. My husband, Jon, is the chaplain and he is the pastor to this flock of people and our children and myself are a part of the community of faith. We have two services every Sunday morning – one contemporary and one traditional (Just kidding!). But seriously, we have two services because the 80 to 100 people who attend church each week can’t all fit into the room at the same time! Read more
Working in the field of gerontology for nearly 20 years, I have had frequent opportunities to study, teach and learn about the subject of caring for aging loved ones. And more often than not my study includes discussions about the tremendous stress that is on caregivers. People caring for an aging spouse or parent juggle many tasks in one day, such as, shopping for groceries, chauferring to doctor’s appointments, picking up medicines, preparing meals, helping with finances, cleaning, helping to bathe and dress, listening and sharing. All the while, this caregiver may have a full-time job, children and grandchildren to care for and other responsibilities. It is a very stressful time and a role that is a reality for millions of baby boomers. Read more
As we look for ways to minister to the body, mind and soul of older adults, I came across a devotion in the book, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young, that I thought was helpful. It speaks to some of the fears and needs of people as they age and it is written as if God is talking directly to the person. Read more
It is a reoccurring topic of conversation among many of the churches I visit and leaders I interact with. What do we call our ministry? And how do we identify the people we want to serve?
I’ve written before on how most baby boomers do not like to be called seniors. And in an effort to continue to search for answers to this question of what to call the new-old, I want to share something from a gerontology textbook. Read more
Aging gets a bad rap in our society. We joke a lot about the negative aspects of aging…hearing loss, hair growth, wrinkles, etc., but I believe there actually are some wonderful things about aging. In fact, I’ve had older adults tell me that this season of their life is the best. Scripture also suggests that the later years can be a positive time of life. Read more
My guess is that a number of you have seen this picture before. If you look at it one way you see a beautiful, young woman…if you look at it in a different way you see the face of an old woman. (Hint: The chin of the young woman is the nose of the old woman).
It’s interesting how our view – our perspective – can have such an effect on how we approach something. For many people, aging has been seen as something negative and something to avoid. It is time we work to create a new perspective.
Here are two suggestions of how you can begin to do this in your church.
1. Draw attention to the contribution of older adults.
This woman is in her late 70s and volunteers her time with the tech ministry at her church. She does not fit the unfortunately common stereotype of an older person complaining about the music or powerpoint slides or lights. Rather, she is giving of her time and abilities to serve people in the local church. In fact, she runs the light program! We need to tell her story and the hundreds of other stories of older men and women just like her. Write about them on your church blog. Share their story from the platform on a Sunday morning. Create a video of older adults serving in various capacities. You get the idea. Start doing something to communicate that older adults are valuable and capable of making a difference.
2. Teach about the lives of older adults in Scripture. One of my favorite examples is of Caleb in Joshua chapter 14. After years and years the Israelites are finally coming into the Promised Land. In verse 6 we come upon Caleb who recalls the promise God had made to him 45 years before to give him the land of Hebron and then in verse 10, Caleb says: “…So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country the Lord promised me that day.”
Here is a guy who did not approach aging as something negative, rather he fully embraced this stage of life and all that God had for him. Young people and old people in our churches and communities need to hear these stories, so they know that this can be a reality for them.
What are you doing to help create a new perspective of aging in your ministry context?
Last week, I was asked this question, “When does reluctance to accept growing old become dangerous to one’s spiritual health?” Here was my response:
In our culture, we are bombarded on a daily basis with the message that younger is better and we must do everything we can to maintain our youth. Whether it be make-up, hair color or clothes, many go to great lengths to ‘stay young’ and in the process they neglect to see that growing old has always been a part of God’s plan. Once sin entered this world, we became mortal beings and our physical bodies would eventually wear out. The process of aging is simply God’s way of moving us from birth to death and then to eternity. We should not avoid or fear aging but should view it the way Scripture describes it, as a blessed time of life. (Genesis 15:15; Proverbs 20:29).
Another point to consider in regards to aging and our spiritual health, is that God desires for us to be totally dependent on Him. He wants us to be desperate for Him, to need Him above anything else. And yet, in our society we tend to be very self-sufficient.
In my book, Baby Boomers and Beyond, I write: “The losses and challenges associated with aging can persuade older adults to throw themselves on God. Even though people fight it, aging cannot be reversed. Physical health does decline, aging parents need care, and loved ones do die. In these circumstances, when people have nowhere else to turn, we can point them to a deeper dependence on God, and in turn they will find peace and intimacy with Him.” (p.161). “My soul finds rest in God alone…” (Psalm 62:1)
Please chime in with your answer to this question:
“When does reluctance to accept growing old become dangerous to one’s spiritual health?”