Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ways to Minister to the Elderly

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

"Wisdom is with aged men, with long life is understanding" Job 12:12 (NASB)

"Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly." Leviticus 19:32

While working at the retirement center, I met many elderly men and women. I noticed that each and every one had stories to tell, advice to give and knowledge to share. And, each and every one were touched by the smallest kind gesture, word or act. I also noticed that other young people that worked there acted as if their job, whether handling the upkeep of the lawn and gardens, serving food or wheeling a wheelchair, was the most boring and terrible job one could have. There were no smiles, cheery hellos, conversation starters or signs of respect shown. Instead, there were eye rolls, sighs and statements spoken that sounded like they could have been directed to a child who wouldn't know a bird from a fish.

To be honest, I was shocked and saddened. Who do we teenagers think we are? Certainly not smarter than these other human beings who have lived fifty, sixty years more than us? ....I hope not. Out of all the generations living right now, we are the ones that, for the most part, know the least.

You and I, as young people who are aiming to serve the Lord, let's do something a little extra to reach out. It doesn't take much; just a little time and energy. And we, the young and unmarried, seem to have much of that. Wouldn't you agree? I know that many of your families probably already do something for the elderly, but I thought that I'd post a few things that us girls could do.

1. Befriend a sweet, lonely lady you meet (either at a retirement center, or the grocery store :) and become pen-pals. If you're like me, you probably have a good assortment of them already, so you know how letter writing works. The lady I helped loved getting mail, and frequently enjoyed sending out little encouragement cards to her friends as well. Think about how appreciative someone might be if you started writing to them, asking for cooking tips, old stories and childhood memories.

2. Drop off a dessert. If you personally know the person, make sure you know if they have any dietary restrictions. Not everyone does, however, and since many facilities accept donated treats, make a few dozen cookies to drop off (of course being sure to call first).

3. Many nursing homes and retirement centers have chapel times, offered by different churches around town. If you play an instrument, and your church or homeschool group doesn't do this, why not volunteer a little of your time and play (or sing!) for the residents? At the retirement center I was at, a lady would play the piano twice a week during breakfast. Everyone enjoyed it!

4. Offer to visit a lady's home once a week or so, and bring things for manicures, card making or something else she might enjoy doing with you. If you wanted, you could even go big time and volunteer to do it for all the ladies in a retirement or senior center.

5. Have a cards night, either at your house, an elderly person's or retirement home. Many elderly people love playing cards!
And one more idea: Offer to clean once or twice a week for someone. Being young and agile, we're a much better canadite for loading the dishwasher or scrubbing out the shower than a person who has a hard time just walking. One more way to practice our "homemaker" skills!

"Give and it will be given unto you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over..." Luke 6:38


Lanita said...

You and Hannah must be on the same wave length.

Merry Christmas, Serenity.

Mrs. Noa

A.B.T said...

Lovely! I am glad to hear of these things from someone who has had opportunity to practice and experience. Please forgive the LONG delay of my letter! We still do not have stamps.Thank you for your patience.

Alli said...

You have given me a lot to think about. I recently have been wanting to volunteer at a nursing home or assist an elderly on their errands. But when ever I think about it, it brings me back to when I wasn't as faithful to my grandma.


alepenti said...
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Brittany said...


I have read a few of your posts and all of them refreshing! It is rare to find young women who take delight in living out God's law.

I have been volunteering in nursing homes since I was 10 and am now employed at one as a physical therapist assistant, and I think your ideas are great. It is the little things in life that make them smile! Sometimes the best thing you can do for the elderly is simply to listen... listen to their stories, hear their concerns, and share in their joys! As Christians, we are called to bear one another's burdens, and there is no age limit to this command.

These people are wonderful, even the grumpy ones! They can make light of difficult situations and because of their helplessness(in many occasions)many have reverted to that childlike faith that is so desirable. I find myself in awe of their powerful faith at times, in the face of weakness, sickness, and indignity.

It can be hard at times, to visit nursing homes, because they remind us of our frailty. But God is glorified by our weakness! So, rather than being put off by this reminder, we should glory in our weakness as it teaches us to rely on the One Who sustains us.

Keep striving for Him, for He is the most worthy thing to fight for.

Amber Bruce said...

This has been very helpful! Later on today I am heading to a retirement home and I was asked to give a message to them. Truth is, I don't have a thing to say. After reading this I feel like they should be the ones talking to me but God-Willing I pray I'll be able to speak into their lives someway and somehow. I'm excited and just praying for the move of God :)