Articles on Older Adult Ministries

Allow God to Do What Needs to Be Done

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

Helping Others Can Ease Bouts of Boredom

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

May 01, 2013

Are we there yet? I’m bored, there is nothing to do! Have you ever heard these words from a child? If you have raised children and have ever taken them for a ride, I guarantee that you probably have. When our children had all grown up, we thought we had heard them for the last time. But then along came the grandchildren! It tickled me to hear my daughter, who now has three children of her own, say: “I don’t understand. They have their electronic games, movies, and what have you—all of them in ...

Memories of Past Help Coping With Present

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

March 01, 2013

Mem’ries, Light the corners of my mind Misty water-colored memories Of the way we were . . . As we hear in these words from Marvin Hamlisch’s song, “The Way We Were,” memories of the past, are at best, blurred, and at worst, just plain wrong. We often long for the good old days, as if they were free of problems. Many older adults tend to gloss over the past. They often romanticize it, neglecting to recall the fear of the Great Depression, forgetting how many were starving and homeless; or see ...

Life Review Reinforces Worth for Elderly

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

February 01, 2013

I grow old . . . I grow old . . . I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Since my days in college, where I majored in English, there are certain lines of poetry that suddenly pop into my head. Long after I’ve forgotten the details of a specific poem, the words simply reappear, almost daring me to recollect their setting and their meaning. These words from T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” did exactly that the other day. I knew the words came from this poem. I even ...

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