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Jul23ThuGaining perspective about life through ministry to seniors July 23, 2009 by Cadet Michelle Elsasser
As 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.
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- Opinion & Critical Thought
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.
Cadet 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.