Friday, February 06, 2015

How Can My Friends and I Serve Seniors?

Dear _________,

Thanks for your note and for your interest in serving senior citizens and others who tend to be marginalized by our culture. Claire and I would certainly find time to talk to your friends about ministries to seniors if you'd like. But let me start by listing a few of the basic possibilities.

1) Visitation and friendship development.

One of the best ways to begin this kind of ministry is to start with a relative or maybe someone from your church who resides in a nursing home or senior living facility. Just go visit. Talk. Share. Pray together. Listen to the stories of their lives. Read the Bible or the newspaper to them, maybe poetry. And then naturally branch out to that resident's roommate and other friends.

Another option is to contact the pastor of your church and ask him if he'd like some company when he visits the senior care facility (if he does.) You can meet people that way. And you can always contact the activities director of the facility and ask about people living there who most need a little diversion, a little encouragement, a little friendship.

2) Helping out

Just about any nursing home or other senior facility needs help in carrying out its programs and volunteers willing to help are a great treasure. Examples? Transporting wheelchair-bound residents to events. Providing company while the resident goes through therapy. Helping with parties, meals, bingo games, playing cards, worship services, special holiday events, shopping excursions, etc.

3) Entertainment

Singing and/or helping with sing along events. Playing an instrument. Dancing. Short skits. Reading aloud. Sharing hobbies. Coming along with us to visit when we present "When Swing Was King" shows. All kinds of things. Talk to your friends and pray about these opportunities to decide on what you'd most like to do. Then make sure you contact the activities director of the facility for permission and guidance.

4) Seniors outside of "the system."

Be careful to not overlook the possibility of making friends and helping out with the elderly (or others with special needs like the physically or mentally challenged) who still live on their own. There's probably a lot of grandparents among your circle of friends who would love to have a visit and make some young friends. The same is true with other seniors from your various church congregations.

We will say a prayer for you and your friends, asking our Lord to carefully guide and bless your decisions. And again, thanks so much for your note.