CDACP – Ways to Care for Others
Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director, Christian Life Resources
How equipped are you to help care for Mom or Dad as they age or when one or the other dies? Caring is more than emotion and good intentions. Careful forethought greatly helps make a transition in what otherwise is an emotionally dominant time. CDACP represents six basic areas of concern as you prepare for these transitions.
The two things we hold most in common with all other people is that we live and that we die. Yet, talking about death and caring for widows and widowers is something we don’t talk about unless we have to.
Make it a priority.
Your parents are older than you. Historically, statistically and biologically speaking, God will take them to be with him in heaven before you. Chances are he will not take both parents at the same time. Someone will be left to spend his or her final years as a single person. Talk about that reality.
Talking about it early, when everyone is comparatively young, allows for careful planning. The types of challenges involving the death of a parent include logistical, geographical, social, and financial issues. With forethought and careful planning, an emotionally difficult time can be made a little easier.
A family needs to learn and become accustomed to sacrificial loving. Start by the way you use your home or apartment. Learn to host family and friends. Get used to accommodating the little nuances involving different personalities.
In your congregation identify those who are widowed or single and alone for major holidays. Include one or more of them in your family celebrations. “Adopt” them as an aunt, uncle, or grandparent.
A key element in caring for others is developing a greater concern for them than for yourself (Philippians 2:3-5). That takes practice and sacrifice. Start conditioning.
Given their first choice most people want to live in their own home until their last days. They do not want to move in with family and, if their children have young children, many have difficulty coping with the challenges of raising youngsters all over. They have been there and done that.
The problem is that when they bought or built your home they didn’t think much about growing old in it. The “old homestead” often causes challenges once mobility is restricted. Stairs become obstacles. Hallways seem a bit too narrow. The yard gets to be more than can be managed. The upper cupboards become hard to reach, and the lights don’t seem to be bright enough. The bedroom is too small to manage with a walker or wheelchair. It becomes too difficult to get in and out of the bathtub or use the toilet.
Yes, there are adult communities that accommodate these challenges. Yet the changes do not come easily. It is bad enough for an aging loved one to realize he or she cannot do familiar things. It can be even worse to expect someone to move away from familiar surroundings. For some people, the experience can be especially traumatic.
Consider the way you select or build your home. Is it “timeless” to meet the needs of both a young and active family and aging and restricted adult? Consider what improvements can be made in the home of your parents and/or grandparents to live longer in those familiar surroundings.
If you plan to care for aging parents and grandparents in your own home, is it ready? In other words, do the same obstacles still exist? Can you afford the remodeling? Can aging loved one enjoy their own privacy yet remain a part of the family? Consider now the changes you might have to make in the future to care for parents and grandparents.
Christians devoted to their Lord and to the Lord’s people find great comfort in the community of believers. Is your congregation welcoming and accommodating to those who have difficulty getting around? Do stairs need to be negotiated? Does the sound system accommodate fading hearing? Is the lighting bright enough for dimming eyes? Are there familiar faces for Mom or Dad to feel comfortable?
Without a doubt, aging Christian parents cherish their relationship with their church, their pastor, and their fellow members. Be sure your church meets those needs.
Finally, learn to participate more in the lives of your parents and grandparents. Drop-in, visit, help out around the house and yard, run errands, write, send flowers, give them a computer to share emails, etc. Be a part of their lives and not a spectator. Be the familiar ear to listen to their stories and struggles. Be the tender hand to comfort them through hard times. Be the assuring voice of the Christian faith.
A family is a support system in the best and worst of times. Consider how your family can better support each other, and be an example of loving support to those who observe.
Q&A on Caregiving and Diminished Quality of Life
March 11, 2021
The Practical Approach to End-of-Life Issues: Conclusion
September 18, 2020
A Practical Approach to End-of-Life Issues: Anxious for Death
September 18, 2020