By Rev. Doug Forbes
Caring for the elderly can be an exciting and rewarding experience. In a church I served at, we started a program called the “Friends Ministry.” The Friends Ministry came about when we asked a nursing home administrator for permission to sing Christmas carols to the residents. While the administrator acknowledged that our intentions were good, he told us that there were plenty of church groups who already came to sing at Christmas time. What the often lonely shut-ins needed were friends throughout the year to come and visit them.
Because of that conversation, our young people started to visit the nursing home on a regular basis. They didn’t come to sing or hold services. They just came to visit their friends whom they have grown to love. In turn our teens have learned a great deal from the senior citizens’ rich experiences and often received some very practical advice.
Maybe visiting a nursing home is not possible for you. Many senior citizens live in their own homes right in your neighborhood. You could offer to help with the shopping, put out their rubbish, cut their lawn or shovel their snow. When shopping, we can leave the best spaces for our older friends and for moms with young children. In these ways we can share God’s love in a very practical manner.
Most of my older friends won’t ask for assistance but will gladly accept it when offered. When you make an elderly friend the benefits are enormous, both for you and for your new friend.