Articles on Older Adult Ministries

Community Can Help Ease Personal Transitions

Jim Stinson, Former 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, Former 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, Former 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, Former 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, Former 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 ...

Learning from the Dark Can Bring Insight

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

August 01, 2015

One of my best memories of growing up in a crowded neighborhood in Brooklyn was the ride we took each summer at the end of June. We went as a family to a campground on Long Island, where we camped until school was ready to open after Labor Day in September. It was a time of near total freedom. My siblings and I would wander around the “woods” picking berries with our friends, hang out in the tree house we had constructed over the years with bits of lumber we found, and otherwise just do ...

Dishonesty May Be More Painful Than Illness

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

June 01, 2015

“There has to be something very wrong with me. I can’t eat. I am losing weight. I have a lot of pain, unless I take a lot of medicine. My doctor and my family tell me not to worry. It is nothing that will not heal in time. But I don’t believe them! Why are they lying to me? I wish they would be honest with me. I feel like I can’t trust them.” How sad! And yet I hear older people express the same emotion many times. In this instance, I know she has end-stage cancer and the family has convinced ...

Just Listening is a Gift to the Dying

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

May 01, 2015

“When it comes to dying, I’m an amateur. I haven’t done it—I think when I come to it, I will still be an amateur, somewhere between frightened and terrified.”  —Sam Keen, “Graceful Passages” Bingo! Sam Keen speaks to a reality that bypasses some of the death-denying language of our culture and our church—the language of “Don’t be afraid, let your faith carry you through this passage in your life.” “Don’t be afraid, we’ll be with you all the way.” Both statements can be comforting, and both of ...

“God Talk” May Hinder Caring Ministry

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

April 01, 2015

After knocking on his door and asking permission to come in, I introduced myself to a new resident at Wicke Health Center, where I am the director of spiritual life. His response was similar to those I’ve heard many times over since taking this position. “You may not want to talk to me. I do not go to church, am not religious, and am not sure I believe in God.” “Well, I did not come to push church going or religious beliefs, I came to say hello, hopefully to get to know you, and to let you know...

“Growing Pains” Can Come at Any Age

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

March 01, 2015

Some years ago we took our nearly teenaged son to the doctor. We did so because he was complaining of aches and pains all over his body. He was not showing signs of sickness or any overt reason for feeling as he reportedly felt. Yet we were convinced that his pains were real. With some trepidation, we awaited the results of the examination. With a smile on his face, the doctor announced there was nothing wrong with him other than “good old fashioned growing pains.” Who knew there was such a ...

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