Articles on Older Adult Ministries

Encouraging Trust in the Wisdom of God

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

Allow God to Do What Needs to Be Done

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

January 01, 2014

She is blind and quite hard of hearing. She has been a widow for many years and is nearly 100 years old. Her only living child, a very supportive son, died a few weeks ago, leaving her with no family member anywhere nearby. Her nearest relative, a grandson, lives in Georgia. If she did not live at Wesley Village, our United Methodist Home in Shelton, Conn., she likely would be completely on “her own.” It was my task to tell her that her son had died unexpectedly, seemingly in the best of ...

Depression Often Overlooked in Aging

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

November 01, 2013

In her mid-eighties, not given to morose thoughts and always life affirming, my mother startled me one day with a comment. She said, very matter of factly, “I know more people up there than I do down here.” She gestured toward the sky as she said “up there” and toward the ground as she said “down here” making sure I got the point she wanted to make. Now while I could argue with her cosmology about the location of heaven, I could not argue with her observation. The fact was, she had outlived ...

Love & Affection May Help Ease the ‘Whys’

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

October 01, 2013

“Grandpa, I wish Uncle Chay could be alive again.” So began yet another conversation with my newly minted, “now-I’m-six-years-old” grandson.” “I know you do Benjamin, we all wish the same thing, but it doesn’t work that way…” “Why?” Benjamin can be “fresh” in a bad way, but more often than not, he is “fresh” in the best sense of that word. At six years of age everything seems new to him. He still sees life through eyes of wonder. He still sees life as an adventure. But he also sees the ...

Seeing Our Lives Through Changed Eyes

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

September 01, 2013

“And The Mountains Echoed” is a fascinating and disturbing novel by Khalem Hosseni, author of “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns.” In heart-wrenching detail, he tells the story of a family from Afghanistan who, over a 60-year period, continue to be affected by decisions made in earlier generations. It is a sometimes grim reminder that, while we are free to alter our responses to the events of our lives, thus changing ourselves in some real way, we are always to some extent the ...

Empathy Can Help Alleviate Aging Fears

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

August 01, 2013

“May you live to be 120!”   This traditional Jewish birthday blessing comes from the book of Genesis (6:3). The Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”   There was a time when this wish was at best a metaphor and, at worst, trite and meaningless. The likelihood of living that long is still not reality for most of us, but it is increasingly more within the realm of possibility. We now have centenarians as an ...

Retirement Can Mean Start of Something New

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

July 01, 2013

I had the privilege of attending a retirement event for a friend recently. He is, by normal standards, an older person. And with that standard comes certain societal assumptions—the attitude that he should retire, that he should not be in the work place. Presumably these assumptions are made purely on the basis of aging. What was so wonderful about this event is that it was the third time he retired. Someone evidently asked him if he was going to bow to the realities of aging and really retire ...

Ministry to Elderly Starts With a Visit

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

June 01, 2013

“I just don’t want to be alone!” He is nearly 90 years old and has just been told he is terminally ill, with a very short time to live. His fear of being alone as his earthly journey comes to an end is certainly not uncommon; nor is it limited to older people. Despite the fact that he has embraced a life of faith throughout his years; despite the fact that he believes there is life after death; and despite the fact that he knows he is surrounded by God’s love, he is still fearful! When he ...

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