Articles on Older Adult Ministries

Embracing Life Fully—However It Comes

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

August 16, 2016

“Sitting full in the moment, I practiced on the God-awful difficulty of just paying attention.  It’s a contention of Heat Moon’s—believing as he does any traveler who misses the journey misses all he’s going to get—that a man becomes his attentions.” This is from a delightful book, “Blue Highways” by William Least Heat-Moon, published in 1983. The book details his observations of people and places as he travels the perimeter of the United States, always on the back roads, almost never on an ...

Concrete Acts of Love Can Help Caregivers

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

June 22, 2016

“I know I did the right thing, but I cannot stop feeling guilty for doing so.”  Some decisions are not only difficult to make, they are also heartbreaking to make. His wife has advanced dementia and is difficult for anyone to manage, let alone a 90-plus-year-old spouse. She would not allow aides or companions into her home —that was the first option. She would not consider moving to an assisted living facility. She was closed to every available option. So she stayed where she was longer than was...

Preparing for Those End-of-Life Decisions

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

May 27, 2016

It has to be one of my least favorite things to do. It also happens to be the most spiritually moving thing to be asked to do. It is a request I’ve heard more than once. This time it began with a phone call. “Jim, could you meet us at the hospital. Mom is doing very poorly and we have decided to remove her from life support. We would so appreciate it if you were there when that happens.” I hurriedly cleaned up, got dressed and headed for the hospital, where I was greeted with a question that, I ...

Finding New Ways to Offer God's Hope

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

April 13, 2016

“I’m not very big,” said the Little Blue Engine. “I have never been over the mountain.” “But we must get over the mountain before the children awake,” said all the dolls and the toys. The little engine looked up and saw the tears in the dolls’ eyes. And she thought of the good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain who would not have any toys or good food unless she helped. Then she said, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” These words from the beloved, “The Little ...

“Washed Clean” by Telling Our Stories

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

March 14, 2016

“I feel clean again.” Who said that?  He is in his nineties and facing major changes in his life. Most of them he did not expect. As loss piled on loss, he began to think differently about life. He did not like what he was thinking, but even so, the thoughts kept coming. Up until this point, he had always been sure of his faith. Now he was thinking his faith was wavering and he did not like that reality. He talked one day, unloading his situation and his reason for wondering if his faith would...

Community Can Help Ease Personal Transitions

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

February 15, 2016

They were childhood friends. They have been married for more than 60 years, and have never been separated in all those years. That was until a few weeks ago when her dementia advanced to the stage where she was no longer safe in their home, and required more care than her husband or family could provide. She is now in a dementia care setting, often angry and bewildered that her husband and children “just dumped me here.” She does not comprehend why they made the decision, which was made in ...

Willy Provides A Lesson on Giving Back

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

December 15, 2015

Willy, who was born to Haitian parents in the Dominican Republic, has lived in that country all his life. The two nations make up the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. But because of a long-standing bigotry toward those of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic, Willy is relegated to living in a shantytown—a slum of major proportions—on a muddy mountainside, with little or no services. He lives on a shoestring, as the saying goes, getting a small stipend from Health Horizons International, a ...

Communicating in Both Old & New Ways

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

November 16, 2015

A strange thing happened recently in the Stinson house during the sleeping hours. Someone, or some thing, caused my iPad to crack while my wife and I innocently slept. I discovered the crack during the wee morning hours when I went downstairs because my sleep had been disturbed. Could it have been the mysterious someone or some thing that played havoc with the screen? Later that morning, when we both were up and about, I asked Barbara—the last one to use the iPad and put it on the charger for ...

Never Too Old to Be Faithful Example

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

October 14, 2015

She is 89 years old and is the secretary of the church. I had no idea of her age when I arrived there as the interim pastor about a month ago. All I knew of her was that the Staff Parish Relations Committee had told me, “If you need to know anything we have not told you about the church, ask Lois.” Obviously they have a great deal of love and respect for her wisdom and ability. In just the month I’ve worked with her it is clear why they feel this way. How I discovered her age was when she told ...

Beware of Assumptions About Age & Abilities

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

September 01, 2015

“Are you out of your mind?”  “It is time for yourself; you don’t have to keep giving to others.” “You do know you are not getting any younger, don’t you?” These, and many other similar responses—including well wishes that far outnumbered the somewhat negative ones—came on my retirement and subsequent announcement of an interim pastoral appointment. I was ready for people who knew me well to tell me what they thought. Indeed, I value the friendships that allow for such honesty. What came as ...

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