LPNI Health Topic – January 2016


FAITH for Seniors in a New Year


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 facilities?

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

Parish Nurse

San Diego, CA, USA