Open Hearts, Reaching Out to the Elderly
Reaching Out-The Intangibles
I wrote about giving material gifts to our elderly. We touched on how elders value our time and attention. I know I’m preaching to the choir, because most of you who read this blog are actively caring for a parent or spouse or have a vested interest in elder care. Let’s cast a wider net, at least in our imagination, for a moment.. What about the intangible gifts towards the elderly? There are many elderly in our communities who have no one. They are alone this Christmas and other holidays when so many of us spend time with our families.
Some churches and communities have programs that give a structured way of reaching out to the elderly. Many don’t. We don’t need a program to keep our eyes and ears open, noticing older neighbors needing help, that woman in the grocery store struggling with her small purchases, or the man in the doctor’s office juggling his cane or walker, trying to open the door. A smile and a helping hand is a minute of our time but remains long in an elder’s heart.
Sharing From Our Abundance, Set An Example
Reaching out takes so little but is a great investment. This Christmas as you make preparations for your family get-together, pack a few extra cookies, box up a serving of your Christmas dinner, and share it with an elderly neighbor or friend. I know I’ve eaten way too many of the cookies I’ve made this year. Sharing is better for my waistline and my soul. Involve the younger members of your family so they learn from your godly example.
Start a new family tradition that involves a visit to a nursing home or senior center. Teach your children and grandchildren as they see you go out of your way to greet the elderly in your church congregation. Make sure they have a place to spend the holidays. No one wants to be alone. Surely there is room at your table for one more. They don’t eat much, anyway.
Don’t automatically assume your elderly friend or neighbor has family taking care of them. Perhaps their family is ill or away this year. Just ask– if they’re taken care of, fine, they’ll still appreciate your gesture.
A star singing voice isn’t required to warble a few Christmas carols to your elderly neighbor. Their hearing is probably going, but they know you cared. Even if you arrive empty-handed, and not singing, just your smile and greeting means so much to seniors. I know my parents love visits, phone calls and letters. They love the videos their great-grandchildren send even though they can barely see or hear them. They just want to know they haven’t been forgotten, that they are valued and loved. They rejoice in every contact with friends and neighbors both old and new. Spread some of that Christmas joy we hear so much about. I guarantee the joy you receive will exceed your gift.
Have a very Merry Christmas from our house to yours. Here is a video about reaching out to the elderly. Grab a box of tissues.