Articles on Older Adult Ministries

Helping Others Can Ease Bouts of Boredom

Jim Stinson, Former 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, Former 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, Former 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 ...

Top 10 Reasons to Start Older Adult Ministry

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

December 01, 2012

10. Older adults know more about living than you do—you can learn from them! 9. Older adults are the biggest givers to the work of the church! 8. Older adults have a great deal of time on their hands which might be used in the congregation’s ministry! 7. Older adults are a sizeable portion of the church—there are more of them then there are of young people! 6. Older adults are the present of the church—not the past! 5. Older adults are easy to please—just demonstrate that you love them! 4....

Tackle Misconceptions About Aging

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

November 01, 2012

I attended a symposium entitled “Embracing the Aging Experience.” All the participants were United Methodists engaged in one ministry or another to older adults. There were a great variety of approaches to such ministry. There were both subtle and not so subtle differences surrounding our common work. What struck me, despite the variety, was the common assumption that the aging experience was something to be embraced. A sense that the church needed to be about a ministry that shattered ...

Waiting May Not Be Easy, But is Reality of Our Lives

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

October 01, 2012

Every Thursday, a volunteer offers manicures to our residents at Wesley Heights. When this program began everyone, it seemed, wanted to be first and would find very creative reasons to be so. The desire to be first, to not have to wait, led to arguments among our residents. Most of the people arguing had nowhere else to go and would likely sit in the lounge, where the manicures are done, most of the morning having coffee and cookies anyway. In fact, the earliest ones to have manicures on any ...

Playing the Game Until the Last Hole

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

September 01, 2012

“Face it, we’re playing the back nine.” Although I do not play golf, I understood what he was saying. To a golfer, the phrase refers to the last nine holes played in an 18-hole round of golf. To my friend, who is the same age as I am, it had a far different meaning. He was reflecting that his game—his life—was in the last years. There was a certain wistfulness in his tone. He was clearly thinking, on some level, about his mortality. He’s always been a happy-go-lucky kind of a guy. So it was a ...

Accepting the Request to “Go Home”

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

August 01, 2012

Hattie died the other day. At 95 years of age, her last spoken word was, “I want to go home!” Her daughter leaned over to her and said, “Mom, it’s okay to go home. We’ll be okay here. Go home!” It was a poignant moment, followed very shortly by Hattie’s last breath. It was especially poignant because she had lived at the Bishop Wicke Health Center for the last two years. During that time, every conversation with Hattie began and ended with, “I want to go home. Why can’t I go home?” No amount ...

God’s Grace Helps Us More Than Survive

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

July 01, 2012

“A burden of these years is the temptation to cling to the times and things behind us rather than move to the liberating moments ahead. A blessing of these years is the invitation to go light-footed into the here and now—because we spend far too much of life preparing for the future rather than enjoying the present.” Joan Chittister, in her book, “The Gift of Years—Growing Older Gracefully,” offers this insight. Our older years are wasted if we keep looking backward, but fulfilling if we are ...

Never Underestimate the Richness of Life

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

June 01, 2012

Elizabeth was a gem. She always had a huge grin at the ready—she loved everyone around her. Other residents adored her. She was different though, having a medical event early in her life that damaged her brain and left her thought processing slow and often quite childlike. But her personality rose above what could have been a tragedy. For whatever reason, she managed to live a full life, working as a housekeeper for the Residence for Students of St. Vincent’s Nursing School in Bridgeport, Conn. ...

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