Peace in the Nursing Home - Salvation Army Canada

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  • Jul23Thu

    Peace in the Nursing Home

    Gaining perspective about life through ministry to seniors July 23, 2009 by Cadet Michelle Elsasser
    Filed Under:
    Opinion & Critical Thought
    goodbyeAs I enter a resident's room at the nursing home, I am quickly swept up by the atmosphere. I do a rapid scan over the dressers and a brief glance at the walls. I like to get an idea of what the person's life was like prior to coming to the residence. Some of them have photos, some have precious knickknacks and others have personal adornments and crafts. To various degrees, each room is uniquely personalized. In these brief moments, I become unsettled and liberated all at once. I am unsettled as I think that their life is now reduced to a small room with only memories and a few memorabilia. It seems anticlimactic in the grand picture of life. When you are younger, you have your dreams and goals ahead of you, something to anticipate and look forward to. There is always something ahead that inspires and gives hope. In the cramped space of their room, though, it seems to me that that hope is unreachable. Especially with the added physical and mental health challenges many of them face.

    I am also liberated by this same visit. I can acknowledge all of the pain and struggles but realize that God is still active in their lives. I can see that for believers, hope is not in the material things of this world. Their worldly possessions have been reduced to a few articles. Their passions have been stripped to what they are capable of. God, however, still resonates within those who love him. They have a tender peace and hope for the life to come. These seniors still face the difficulties of pain, loneliness and loss but God offers his strength and hope for heaven.

    Engaging the world of seniors can be challenging. The nursing home environment can be strange for many of us. The disturbing sights, smells and sounds can be a deterrent, and it can also be difficult to feel comfortable with our own feelings about aging. Regardless of the challenges, ministry to seniors can bless your life as God transforms uneasy feelings into Godly wisdom. The perspective about life that you gain and the relationships you build are worth every bit of effort.

    michelle_elsasserCadet Michelle Elsasser is married to Kevin, and they have two children, Janna (6) and Caleb (5). In August 2008, the Elsassers left Calgary, Alberta, to enter The Salvation Army's College for Officer Training in Winnipeg. Cadet Elsasser enjoys reading, hiking, creative arts and watching Heartland, her favourite T.V. show.


    On Monday, July 27, 2009, Kristen Gray said:

    Great blog Michelle! You've really captured a lot of what I too felt when we did our placement together at Goldenwest. Hope you are enjoying your summer and I can't wait to catch up with you in a few weeks.


    On Friday, July 24, 2009, Andre Pardy said:

    Great insights Michelle. I'm sure the seniors are blessed to have your presence.



    On Thursday, July 23, 2009, Kathie Chiu said:

    Thank you, Michelle, for bringing this issue forward in such a beautiful way. It's true how life changes for us as we age. I recently had to place my aging mother in a nursing home for 10 days while we were away from home (she lives with us and I care for her). It was a difficult time for her and me as I left her there and said goodbye. What a desolate place it was for many there had no hope of ever going home and not many visitors. How sad.

    Thank you for reminding us that ministry to seniors can be very rewarding and a very important one.

    Kathie Chiu

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