FAITH for Seniors in a New
January begins a new year. It is a sign
that time is moving on. The passage of time can be a
very real issue for older adults. Often they see time as more
finite, with an end in sight. As I thought about senior
congregational members and older friends I wondered how they might
see their lives. My experience tells me that they might think
of their FAITH. This is not their religious
faith, but an acronym for items of concern to them as they age.
F is for
Family. Family is important to the
elderly. One of the most common things I hear from the
elderly is, “I don’t want to be a burden to my family.”
Unfortunately, that concern some-times leads to negative
consequences. For instance, seniors won’t confide in their
families about problems they may be having or will isolate
themselves to hide issues from the family.
A is for
Assets. Assets and finances are a huge
concern for the elderly. Only a minority of seniors are truly
comfortable in their retirement years. Many are solely
dependent on Social Security and Medicare. The Golden Years
are not so golden for many seniors. If the time comes for
individuals to need an increased level of care, the question
becomes, will that care be delivered in their homes or in community
I is for
Independence. The loss of independence, in a
variety of ways, can be devastating, humiliating, and life
changing. What are some of the ways in which seniors lose
independence? The answers are: not being able to drive the
car, physical limitations in work or activities previously enjoyed,
and the inability to live alone. Unless deemed incompetent,
elderly people themselves can and should be the final
decision-makers regarding their loss of independence.
T is for
Truth and Trust. Just
as with the rest of us, seniors want and deserve the truth.
“Speak the truth in love” should be the guiding principle, as is
being trustworthy. Information withheld creates a separation
that can grow into distant and frustrating relationships.
Being a support person, a confidante, and a friend as some very
hard decisions are made can help to build trust while dealing with
some new and difficult truths.
H is for Heavenly
Hope. The assured hope that our loved ones will be
united with our Lord for eternity in heaven is very comforting and
real for seniors in our congregations. Their lives have been
woven with joy, sadness, fear, and gladness. They have
experienced many unimaginable changes locally and globally.
As Christians they look forward to the day they will meet their
Savior face-to-face. What can we do for them in these “sunset
years”? We can visit them, listen to them, learn from them,
sing and pray with them. We must make sure they continue to
receive the Lord’s Supper, even if they are no longer able to
attend worship at their home church.
As parish nurses, we see senior members in our
congregations with many of the issues described above. My
prayer for each of us is that we see our seniors as children of the
Heavenly Father, and assist them with their needs through love,
compassion and support.
Sue Neff, RN
San Diego, CA, USA