Walk into the average megachurch on Sunday morning and you are, statistically, likely to see a young-ish, trendily-dressed pastor delivering a culturally relevant sermon to a group of worshipers in their 30's. But is this an accurate picture of the church as a whole? ABC News reports that 60% of people age 65 and older say they attend church at least once weekly, over twice the 28% rate of the 18-30 age group. Clearly, older Americans are going to church somewhere. In Assemblies of God churches, the 65+ age group represented 10.0% of attendees in 2015, with another 15.9% right on their heels in the 50-64 group (view statistics here).
As people age, their physical and emotional needs obviously change, with many needing companionship or assistance, just as the psalmist expresses in Psalm 71. However, the senior adult group should never be viewed as a liability to the church: Older members contribute significant wisdom and experience, as the Apostle Paul recognized when instructing Titus about church life (Titus 2:4). (See blog post, "The Beautiful Mess of a Multigenerational Church.") There is much the local church can do to esteem its older members and recognize their contributions, while at the same time assisting with their needs.
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The number of people age 65+ is expected to rise from 14.1% in 2013 to 21.7% by 2040, as baby boomers and their larger families continue to age. See analysis of this and other statistics at the Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging.
Dennis Franck - Training churches for single adult ministry, including ministry to widowed and divorced seniors (See Dennis's article, "How the Church Can Minister to Single Senior Adults")
U.S. Missionaries Wes and Judy Wick - YES! (Young Enough to Serve)
Assemblies of God Senior Adult Ministries - publications and information just for seniors.
From Focus on the Family - "How Churches Can Support Immobile and Confined Senior Citizens"
Looking for a helpful presentation for your church's senior citizen members? Check out this free presentation toolkit, "Talking with Your Doctor," from the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute on Aging. Includes PowerPoint, speaker tips and notes, handouts, and ideas for putting together an enjoyable and informative meeting.
Some senior citizens feel disconnected from their younger family members because they are not comfortable with computers, social media, etc. Consider tapping the expertise of tech experts on your staff or in the congregation to host a workshop covering basic computer skills, privacy issues, avoiding fraud, and other topics helpful to seniors. Not only does this help them stay in touch with children and grandchildren, but it can help them with accessing medical records, paying bills without getting outdoors in bad weather, and other daily tasks. For ideas and information, check out "Top 8 Websites to Help Senior Citizens Obtain Basic Computer and Internet Skills," and this great blog post, "Bridging the Digital Divide: Connect Seniors to Technology".
Read how one church has provided a lovely facility for retirees and Alzheimer's patients, in this PE News article. If your church doesn't have the resources to build an entire facility, you will get ideas for how you might volunteer, help decorate, etc., at a facility near you.
The National Institutes of Health's SeniorHealth newsletter - tips, tools, and videos to assist with healthy aging, including Go4Life materials to assist with increasing exercise and physical activity at all levels of ability.
Some seniors take staying fit to the next level! Watch this video of the Penn Relays "Inspiring 100-Meter Dash for Athletes Near 100 Years Old" from the fitness site at Mercola.com.
Find suggestions and resources about staying healthy for senior veterans in the Veterans Health Administration newsletter.
"Health and Wellness Guide for Seniors" - tips for diet, exercise, vision care, dental care, and more.
Could owning a pet mean better health for you or a senior friend? Research says yes. Read "Pet Therapy and the Benefits of Pets in Senior Living" from the Senior Living Blog for some of the reasons why.
Talking with Your Doctor - From the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute on Aging, this free downloadable guide walks seniors through the process of selecting a doctor with whom they feel comfortable. Includes insurance and financial information, transportation and follow-up concerns, what questions to ask, what to take to the appointment, and more.
Golden Age Games: a premier adaptive rehabilitation program designed to improve quality of life for senior veterans.
17% of Americans age 60 and older have some type of substance addiction, often involving prescription drugs. Read a recent PE News article about this, "Age-Old Problem", featuring comments from Teen Challenge as well as a recovery testimony.
From PE News: How does one widow minister to others in her senior living community who have lost their spouse or can't get out to church and fellowship? Read "The Tea Lady of Leisure World."
Check out an online community of people who understand the challenges faced by widows through "One Fit Widow" and "Modern Widows Club." You'll find honesty and openness in these blog posts about loneliness, dating, finances, holidays, and more. Although these are not specifically faith-based groups, the MWC blog includes a "faith and spirituality" section.
From the Journal of Financial Service Professionals, "The Value of Financial Planning" reflects on what widows wish they had known or consider most important in managing their finances following the death of a spouse.
From the Pentecostal Evangel archives: "No Barriers" - this 2012 article shares the stories of three women who became endorsed as chaplains after the "traditional" retirement age. (Two are still actively working as chaplains; the 80-year-old in the article has only recently retired.) It's not too late to respond to God's call and get involved in His work.
From PE News, see this story about a church's food pantry staffed by senior citizen volunteers.
YES! (Young Enough to Serve) - U.S. Missionaries Wes and Judy Wick - helping churches ". . . breathe fresh new life into second half adult ministry." For a look at the importance of intergenerational ministry, see their blog post, "Throwing Grandma and Grandpa Under the Church Bus."
"Shut Down the Bus Tours: What Older Church Members Should Really Be Doing" - from the Leadership Network blog, about how churches are missing out on a huge untapped ministry potential and the blessings of intergenerational involvement.
(Resources in this section are presented for informational purposes and do not imply endorsement of any particular provider of services or equipment which may be sponsoring the information.)
Not sure if you or a loved one qualifies for Medicaid for long-term care? Recommended by the National Institutes of Health's Resource Guide, the Arizona-based group Senior Planning offers a handy "Medicaid Long Term Care Guide." Click on your state to see an overview of the eligibility regulations that apply to you.
"Aging Parents at a Distance Who Aren't Really 'Just Fine'" - From the wellness page of U.S. News & World Report, what to look for on your visits to your elderly relative. See also "Tips on Coping When Someone Says No to Care" from the HomeWatch Caregivers community.
Need help navigating all the choices for senior care? Check out "A Place for Mom" - This free service teams you with an advisor to help find facilities in your area that fit your needs and budget, help access VA benefits, and more. You can also review many options at www.seniorliving.org.
The National Caregivers Library compiles checklists, forms, and articles by topic. Find links to information on legal, financial, medical, housing, caregiver respite, terminology, and much more. Includes recently added section on family care real estate questions and one on workplace resources to help employers support their employees who must deal with caregiving responsibilities while working full time.
Infographic: 6 Ways to Accommodate Aging in Place - Additional helpful checklists are found at "How to Choose A Stair Lift" and "The Secret Weapon for Bathroom Safety," covering topics to ask your remodeler or contractor when planning for senior accommodations.
From the CRCNA Safe Church network - "Vulnerability, Adults, & Abuse" - overview of some particularly vulnerable populations, including the elderly; how to recognize possible abuse; how to prevent it; links to additional sources.
The Family Caregiver Alliance helps family members prepare for the inevitable time when an elderly loved one will need help. Their resources cover legal tips, finances, sensitive conversations, and more. To get started, check out "Talking with Your Parents about Disability" or the archived webinar, "Caregiving 101."
Have you ever wished you could prompt an elderly veteran to share more memories? This brochure, from the Veterans History Project, gives tips for interviewing and helping even those with dementia to recall and share.
Music & Memory - Based on the theory that music can help bring precious memories to dementia patients and give them at least a temporary sense of connection, this national program provides iPods to residents in assisted living and Alzheimer's units.
Age In Place: Resources for living a full life after retirement, focusing on being safe and healthy in the home of your choice.