Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Ministers in mainline churches have different challenges than pastors in evangelical congregations when it comes to the age of members. Even healthy, multi-generational congregations in denominations such as the United Church are likely to have a significant number of elderly folk who deserve pastoral support and often have spiritual issues particular to growing old.
As an example, it can be difficult to experience abundant life when getting from Point A to Point B seems like an insurmountable challenge. I am constantly impressed by the courage of elderly members but the loss of loved ones and the failure of physical and mental health can be dis-couraging. I have been in my current pastorate for a matter of months and already I have been involved in several conversations about post-operative care and decisions about moving from homes to apartments or residences for seniors. Often the concern is mobility or lack thereof, a key factor affecting quality of life.
You may heard that on-site physiotherapy support for those in nursing homes and seniors residences is going to be signicantly reduced in the province of Ontario with the promise of the new alternative being better. I have listened to both sides on this decision and while I am aware that the idea is to curb runaway costs, I'm not convinced that anything will improve.
My 87-year-old mother gets support from a physiotherapist in her seniors residence from someone who visits her at her room. The location and relationship established makes this palatable for my mother. She pays for her residence which means that the government is not subsidizing a nursing home bed and it frees that room for someone else. Yes, mom's therapy costs money which comes out of taxpayers dollars, but this is a whole lot less than hospitalization if she fell and broke a hip, or moved to a different level of care.
I wish I knew what to say and do about support for the elderly in this province. This isn't a particularly attractive social justice area for Christian communities yet it is so important to our aging population. Hey, many of us Baby Boomers may be wondering soon why we were so much in denial about getting older and why we didn't do more to ensure a high quality of life for the elderly.