Articles on Older Adult Ministries

‘Remembering’ Can Help Lessen Fear of Change

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

November 20, 2017

One of the realities of aging is there tends to be more time to reflect and remember than there was when we were younger and busy “building our lives.” Many a conversation with older adults begins with, “I remember when . . .” The supposition often is that we do so, in part, to “wish things were as they used to be.” In such a supposition, we too often miss the importance of remembering or reminiscing. The importance is that it can be a way of assessing the meaning of our lives thus far, and can ...

Caring Touch Can Speak Volumes in Ministry

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

September 14, 2017

He slouches in his wheelchair as bingo cards are being distributed. I am not sure what he is thinking. My guess is he’s not a big fan of the game. Every signal from his body seems to say he would rather be anywhere but where he is at the moment. He is in the sunroom of a very nice community for those who can no longer manage life on their own. Suddenly music from the 1940s and 1950s is heard and “Martie” comes alive. It’s beautiful to see his immediate change of mood. His face lights up. His ...

No Expiration Date on Service to God

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

August 23, 2017

“I don’t feel as if I belong here.” “It is not the world I knew.” “Maybe I have lived too long.” Sound familiar? Having had the privilege of pastoring congregations and serving as director of spiritual life for United Methodist Homes for more than a half century, I cannot even begin to guess the frequency with which older people have expressed these feelings. Even as I continue to serve as a pastor to a small congregation, the feelings continue to find expression. I understand them differently ...

Offering ‘Understanding’ May be Wrong Response

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

July 18, 2017

“If I could change places with him, I gladly would. He has so much life left to live, I have already had a full life. I would be glad to die if it would save my son.” He knows changing places is not possible. Yet he knows how he feels. He, among other things, is feeling helpless, which is apparent in his response to hearing his son’s diagnosis. What does one say in response to such anguish? His son knows that he is facing serious medical issues and is very concerned how his 90-plus-year-old ...

Accepting Communication As It Comes

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

June 21, 2017

She had beautiful red hair, wore stylish clothes, and had a certain assurance about her. When younger, she would cause heads to turn, a stereotypical “looker.” Everything about her emitted the sense that her life was in order. In addition, she was always pleasant and had many friends. She raised a capable and productive family to whom she was very close.  Not all at once, but piece by piece, all of that came apart. She began getting lost in her own neighborhood. Her clothes looked less stylish,...

Encourage Elders to Be Politically Active

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

May 15, 2017

Some years ago, I was privileged to be present when a resident at United Methodist Homes in Shelton, Conn., received a call from the White House to wish her well on her 100th birthday. She received the call graciously and thanked the president and then spoke with the first lady. They chatted for a few moments when the resident said, “I always admired you, but I need to tell you, I don’t agree with a lot of what your husband says and does.” Since the phone was on the speaker, we heard the first...

Elder Abuse Can Come in Subtle Ways

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

March 15, 2017

As the NYAC Older Adult Committee gears up for an April program on recognizing and responding to elder abuse, it has been struck by the ways (often unconscious) that congregations allow such abuse to continue in their midst. Among them: There is the manipulation that family and other loved ones and friends often participate in when they have access to their loved one’s money. There is asking for donations, when there is a question of a person’s ability to understand her finances. I was ...

Finding a Vital Ministry for “Elders”

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

February 16, 2017

In his book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Richard Rohr quotes a Native American saying: “No wise person ever wanted to be younger.” In a time and culture where looking good (almost always implying looking younger) is rampant, this statement seems counter intuitive. Yet, when examined, it speaks to a truth we often forget. Appearances or age are not accurate indications of who a person is and what she might have to offer the world. What we know, through faith and ...

Sharing the Light to Lift Blue Christmas

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

December 13, 2016

Elvis got it right—at least for a lot of people. For many different reasons, his version of “Blue Christmas,” hit and still hits, a responsive chord in many. You, no doubt, recognize the lyrics. I’ll have a blue Christmas without you. I’ll be so blue just thinking about you. Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree Won’t be the same if you’re not here with me. At this time of year, with windows and stores glistening with lights and decorations, with carols playing constantly in stores, with ...

Helping the Questioners Find Their Answers

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

November 16, 2016

There is nothing like a fall day—looking out the sliders and watching the leaves blow off the trees—to get the thoughts flowing. It seems as if the newness of spring and the warmth of summer came and went without a warning. Thoughts of all the passages of life. Thoughts of the people I have loved who have died. Thoughts of churches served and friends of yesteryear. Thoughts of sick loved ones and dear friends. Thoughts of 13 years working with and ministering to older adults. And then a specific...

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