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aging parents

The Benefits of Caring for an Aging Loved One

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


Churches Reaching Out to Caregivers

One of the most challenging life issues facing boomers is caring for their aging parents. Eavesdrop on a conversation between adults who are in their 50s and 60s and at some point you are bound to hear them talk about their concerns regarding their aging mom and dad.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on how churches can minister with aging baby boomers by providing ministry with the boomer’s parent. Now, I want to suggest a few additional ways that churches can minister with boomers who are caregivers.

1. Offer a support group. Call it whatever you want – support group, small group, discussion group, whatever. The point is to provide a safe place for those caring for an aging parent to talk about their concerns and heartaches, share resources with one another, discuss Biblical principles related to caregiving and pray with one another.

2. Develop a ministry devoted to providing breaks for caregivers. Some churches host an adult day care on their campus where caregivers can drop off their elderly loved one for several hours, knowing they will be well cared for. Even providing this service once a month can provide caregivers with a much-needed break.

3. Invite caregivers to telephone the church if they would like to discuss issues related to their aging parent. One church leader told me that whenever the church attempted to hold workshops or conferences focused on caring for aging parents, the turn-out was low. But, when he put a short blurb in the Sunday worship bulletin suggesting that those wanting to talk about issues related to caregiving could give him a call, his phone was ringing off the hook.

4. Suggest resources. Caregivers are busy and overwhelmed. They do not have time to spend hours on the internet or in a bookstore. One of the most helpful things a church can do is to become a clearinghouse as to the resources available in the community. Churches can research services available and then create a library of brochures and phone numbers and make these available to caregivers.

It is also helpful to have a few books that you would recommend. One I frequently suggest to caregivers is Caring for Your Aging Parents: When Love Is Not Enough by Barbara Deane. While the book is 20 years old, it is still one of my favorites because it approaches caregiving from a Biblical perspective and discusses the emotional and spiritual needs of the caregiver and the elderly parent.

With people continuing to live longer, opportunities for ministry with caregivers is only going to increase.

What have you found to be effective in ministering with those who are caring for an aging loved one?


Ministry with Baby Boomers means Ministry with their Aging Parents

This week, Good Morning America aired an intimate interview with co-host Robin Roberts, her 86-year old mother and author Missy Buchanan. Among other things, the piece served as a reminder of the tender and often complex relationship between baby boomers and their aging parents. Emotionally it can be hard for boomers to see their parents become more dependent. Then there are the practical questions and concerns like ‘how long should dad continue driving?’ ‘how do we choose the right nursing home?’ and ‘how do I help mom deal with the loneliness since dad has died?’ These are just a few of many issues facing adult children who are wanting to love their aging parents.

As we begin to look for ways to minister with aging boomers (both those inside and outside the walls of the church) we would be remiss if we did not consider the relationship of boomers and their aging parents.

I believe one key way to minister to boomers is to provide ministry for their aging parent. Think about it like this. Some churches have preschools and mother’s day out programs that strive to do an excellent job of providing quality programming for children. These ministries not only minister to the children but also minister to the parents, because many parents are looking for safe and fun environments for their kids. Reaching out to the children in the community also means reaching out to the parents. The same thing happens in youth ministry. Many parents will choose a church because of the church’s strong ministry for junior high and high school students.

Baby Boomers want the best for their aging parents. They want their mom and dad to feel valued, cared for and honored. Churches that have vibrant ministries for the old-old will reach out to boomers.

Several years ago, Council Road Baptist Church in Bethany, Oklahoma designed a service and day-long program to honor World War II veterans. These men and women were interviewed and their stories were recorded in a book given out that day. Other highlights of the day included a room full of memorabilia and a luncheon with a military band. Family members from out of state drove hours to be with their parent on this special day and other sons and daughters sent notes of appreciation to the church – so thankful that their loved one was being honored.

Other churches have luncheons where boomers can encourage their aging parents to attend for socialization and spiritual inspiration. One daughter looked on the web to find a church with a quilt ministry that her 80+ year old mother could participate in. Since that time, this older woman and her husband have become involved in all aspects of the church and have found new friendships.

Ministering with boomers will mean ministering to their parents.

What church ministries do you know of that are ministering with the old-old and in turn, are providing ministry to boomers?