Articles on Older Adult Ministries

Loss of Routines Can Disrupt Sense of Belonging

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

November 01, 2014

“What do you miss the most about being in your home of so many years?” That’s a question I often ask our newer residents when checking in on their adjustment to living in one of our communities at United Methodist Homes. Invariably the answer goes something like this, “I miss getting up, going downstairs, fixing a cup of coffee, enjoying it for awhile, having breakfast, and then going upstairs to wash and dress for the day.” Or, “I miss the daily routines, walking downtown, seeing neighbors, ...

Finding New Life in Saying Goodbye

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

October 01, 2014

“It seems as if we’re always saying goodbye.” These words came from a resident at our United Methodist Home in Shelton, Conn. It speaks to an all too common experience of older adults. Inevitably, as we age, more and more of our loved ones and friends precede us in death. It speaks to a sense of loneliness often found among the aging. The comment got me thinking about the home’s upcoming annual memorial service. At this time, we will remember residents and staff members who have died during the...

Uncovering the Unspoken, the Unseen

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

September 01, 2014

She arrived “kicking and screaming.” Displaying anger toward her attentive, adult children, she was not easy to approach. Neither they, nor the staff, were sure what to do. It is not that we do not have a well-trained staff at Wicke Health Center; we have an excellent, caring staff. It’s that she had locked in a decision to never enter a long-term care facility. Nothing, in her mind, would allow her to reconsider. However, both physical and real memory issues, mixed with confusion, made it ...

Dementia Inspires New Ways to Communicate

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

August 01, 2014

“I have a difficult time talking to my mother. We used to have wonderful conversations. But the more her dementia advances, the less intelligent our conversations become. What do I say to her, especially when her sense of reality has changed so much?” Certainly a fair and a common question, created by situations that are often painful to watch, as we “lose” the loved one we knew. There is no easy answer to the question. But perhaps something my adult children refer to as “going to Grandma land”...

Dealing with “Waiting” That Comes with Aging

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

July 01, 2014

I was thinking of a hundred and one things I ‘had to do’ that day. I was told he would be there between 7 and 9 a.m. It was only 7:30 and I was already chomping at the bit. “When will he get here?” “I bet it will be closer to 9 a.m.” “It seems like I am always last on the list.” And on I went! At one point in my fussing and fuming I remembered something I’ve heard many times over the years from older people, including my mother and mother-in-law. As one of them waited for me to drive her to...

Leaving Space To Enjoy Daily Miracles

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

June 01, 2014

He was very excited as he asked me. Sitting outside of the Wicke Health Center, where he is a resident, from where he goes for dialysis three days a week, his free time is limited and is often marked by fatigue from the ordeal he endures every other day. So it was especially meaningful that he was so excited and full of vitality as he asked. “Have you seen the Luna Moth?” First of all, I wasn’t quite sure if I had ever seen a Luna Moth, nor would I have recognized one if I did. Second, I could...

Sharing Promises of Spring Can Bring Hope

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

May 01, 2014

Like most everyone else in New England, my thoughts are about Spring. Like many people, it is my favorite time of year. I begin looking forward to it in mid-February. Why? Is it that winter has been too long by then? Maybe, but I’m tired of winter before it even begins, so that most likely isn’t it. Is it because I can open my windows without wasting the heat? Perhaps, but opening them wide for the first time in months reminds me of how many windows I have to wash when I do, so that isn’t it ...

Encouraging Trust in the Wisdom of God

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

April 01, 2014

“How did the visit to the doctor go today?” “Nothing is different that the last time, which means I’m still dying. I might not go back for my next appointment. What’s the use, my days are numbered anyway.” A discussion followed about the results of making that decision. If he were seeing the doctor, would the doctor still prescribe the medicine that was keeping him comfortable? Might something other than his current diagnosis pop up that the doctor might easily treat? And on it went! The ...

Supporting Older Adults Who Choose to Die

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

March 01, 2014

“I have decided to expire,” were her exact words. They were offered in response to my observation that she was not attached to the oxygen tank that had been her companion for nearly a year and the question, why not? Because we both love repartee and because it felt so tense in her room, I said, “When did you become a license or a library book.” She laughed and said, “I really meant to say, “I have decided to die. I am over ninety years old, have had a good life, and just don’t want to live ...

Dealing With Loss While Continuing to Live

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

February 01, 2014

In response to a professor who was fond of saying that “life is about learning to deal with loss,” Frank Bruni, a columnist for The New York Times, wrote recently that the professor was only half right. In a column reflecting on maturity, Bruni agrees that loss is an inherent part of life for which skills of coping must be learned. However, he observes, “Life is about learning to look past what’s lost to what’s found in the process.” At least, he notes, maturity is about that kind of learning. ...

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