Reaching Out and
Caring for Seniors

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Associate Professor of Practical Theology

Communities and churches have adopted a slew of initiatives to help seniors keep occupied and connected. And that is wonderful.

But when we speak of seniors we are speaking of people age 55 and above. I myself am a senior, but I am a young senior that can still get out on my own. Even if my church suspends worship, I am capable of joining a small group to worship through live-streaming.

But we have a number of seniors in their 80s and above (some maybe younger) who are more vulnerable. These have been shut-in for close to two months. And perhaps getting symptoms of “cabin fever.”

And we do not see the light at the end of the tunnel for this confinement.

The caregiver, whether it’s a family member or a FDW (foreign domestic worker, who herself is probably isolated because of the same issue) can be facing frustrations from seeing only the “four walls.”

Both in the Old and New Testaments, old age is addressed. Encouragement is given to love and care, and how we should conduct ourselves to fathers, mothers, older men and women. Rebuke is also mentioned to those who treat older people otherwise. Check out some biblical principles we can follow as we think of seniors: Exodus 20:12; Leviticus 19:32; Psalm 71:9; Proverbs 19:17; Matthew 6:21; Matthew 7:12; John 19:26-27; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4; I Timothy 5:1; Hebrews 13:16; James 1:27; 1 John 3:17-18;

Many societies tend toward downplaying the older generation. Perhaps this is the time to reach out and care for them. To let them know their value.

What can you do for older seniors who are “locked in?” Don’t wait for them or their family to call you. Why not take the initiative and reach out to them?

The following are some suggestions for both immediate families and the body of Christ. You will have to check the feasibility of these suggestions. There are many suggestions, even if physical presence is not possible.

Showing care through technology & telephone:

  1. Even if you are stuck overseas and cannot be home or have no time to get to and be with your loved ones, you can arrange to connect through Skype, Whatsapp video or the simple, humble telephone. A few minutes of seeing (or hearing) you, your family or a group of people can make a difference in comforting them from their current problem;
  2. Praying through these devices are great ways of letting them know you care;
  3. Send photos that they can play and replay to “see” you.

Showing care through home visitation:

A little coordination needs to happen here, to ensure their physical advisories are considered (that is, everyone is healthy) and they are not overwhelmed or over tired. A good practice may just be to stand and remain outside their metal door.

  1. Family, especially if there are young children, bring great cheer to the seniors
  2. Church family and friends. Short 15-minute visits can make a seniors’ day.
    • Short because you want to not over tire the senior. (Do not get offended if the family reminds you that it’s time to leave);
    • Keep the numbers small, so as not to overwhelm the senior;
    • While visiting, observe social etiquette and social distancing rule;
    • As Asians, we do not go empty handed (good culture). But, do check with family an appropriate little gift.

Showing care through sending a card:

In a day where the cost of cards and postage are on the rise, few cards are received. Sending a larger print, home-made cards can help brighten the day. Including a photo will help with identification.

Showing care through a care package:

  1. An occasional surprise care package of “little things” will help bring some cheer. The package could include fun and practical items. It would be good to include a something for the helper;
  2. A surprise delivery of an appropriate meal.

“Run by” the above with the family.

Showing care through outing:

While it is not a good idea to take your seniors to crowded places, there are a couple of suggestions to remain “safe” and yet get them out for a little while. It will help prevent the feeling of isolation:

  1. Where possible, an occasional car ride to different parts of town; if you are concerned about transmission, leave the windows down
  2. Visit parks in the early morning or early evening. Parks are open places, airy and sunny. A short 30-minute visit, once a week, to such places will help the seniors feel less couped up.

Let’s do our part at this time to “do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (Galatians 6:10)

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