8 Ways to Serve the Elders in Your Community or Home
Any discussion of mindful service to the elders within your family and community might best begin with, “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise” (Luke 6:31).
By reaching out to elders as stewards of God’s grace, you offer service to those who spend their lives following Luke’s command. Make no mistake about it: The seniors in your community have put family, church, community and country first in their work and prayers for decades. It’s not only a pleasure to extend fellowship, but a privilege.
1. Honor with Humility
With everything going on in the world today, it’s not always easy to know what God wants us to do. Elders have wrestled with this very question through world wars, desperate famines, racial violence and nuclear attack. Consider asking their opinion regarding today’s challenging issues. Honor their experience by allowing it into your life as an invaluable teaching tool.
2. Care with Purity
Offer care-giving services, from casual shopping to personal hygiene assistance. Often elders exhibit increasing difficulty with basic washing and shaving skills, and securing buttons and zippers on their clothing. It can sometimes be virtually impossible for seniors to maintain an independent lifeof cooking, cleaning, shopping, paying bills or even using the phone.
Restore an elder’s pride by allowing him to care for himself with your pure-of-heart assistance, just as you would naturally attend to the needs of a blood relative. “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2).
3. Socialize with Hope
Make it a point to include elders significantly in your life. Do you have group-oriented hobbies such as quilting or card playing? Is there a piece of scripture or a well-loved novel you would like to read aloud for mutual benefit?
Consider volunteering at a Christian home for seniors. Your collaborative effort multiplies when many are available to offer fellowship together in one place. The gift of shared time offers hope to the elderly and brings blessings to you.
4. Provide with Faith
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
Seniors in our community must not be overlooked when, as a church family, we provide for those in need. Often elders carry a sense of pride that isolates them from communicating a need for heat or electricity, or extra clothing and blankets. If some seniors in your community live independently at home, be sure to keep an eye out for appliances or broken items that need repair.
5. Explore Heritage with Joy
Increasing studies point to the vast benefit of knowing family history and traditions, especially for children. What better source for such tidbits than the elders in your home or community? Don’t be afraid to ask pointed questions regarding heritage. Even seniors who struggle with dementia or Alzheimer’s tend to home in on distinct events in their past with fond focus and surprising clarity.
6. Break Bread Simply
While most elders enjoy routine invitations to holiday dinner gatherings, many eat everyday meals in isolation. Consider nourishing the soul of a senior as you nourish your body and break bread together on an average day.
Eating quietly with an elder is the perfect opportunity to check on possible dental problems that may significantly compromise their health. Seniors might not even be aware of chronic jaw or tooth discomfort because they’ve grown used to it. Watch carefully for signs of sharp pain, or difficulty chewing.
7. Appreciate with Love
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
With great patience and gentleness, openly emphasize your love. Offer specific examples of what makes a particular elder unique in your eyes and God’s. Give thanks for the gift of friendship and counsel. Describe how serving has positively impacted you. Share your gratitude.
8. Respect with Grace
Be careful, when serving the elderly, to remember Christian ministry often spurs denial and rejection. Your desire to serve, in many instances, may be met with similar rebuttal, even in situations where you firmly believe God’s grace is desperately needed.
Exhibit grace yourself by respecting elders’ wishes, whatever they may be. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as it fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
After all, blessings lie in the act of service alone, and we all rest together in the palm of God’s hand.
Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer on a mission to change the world and help people live happier, more enriched lives. She is also the founder of the career and happiness site Punched Clocks.
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