Paul tells us that it is
the responsibility of children and grandchildren (nephews in the KJV) to requite
(to make a return or repayment for a benefit or service) our parents (1 Tim.
5). Not to fulfill this responsibility is to be worse than an infidel (unbeliever).
We cannot plead "Corban," excusing ourselves by high-sounding commitments. In
our day we need to hear more ministry on this subject.
Why? Because of the increasing
number of "senior citizens." If the predictions are correct, one out of five
Americans will be over 65 by the year 2010, just a brief 15 years away. The
world wants to institute a program whereby the government would take care of
them. That, of course, is unacceptable both biblically and from the standpoints
of quality of care and cost-effectiveness. The Bible stills has the best idea.
The family is to take the responsibility; if there is no family, the church
family steps in.
There are problems involved
in the care of the older person: finances, ability to give the proper care,
the need and desire of the older person for independence, to name a few. Complicate
that by the fact that many children do not live near their parents to notice
the extent of their growing disability and we begin to scratch the surface of
the problem. Fortunately there are helps to guide us here.
First, we need a book that
will give general help in understanding the older person and his needs. I found
The Help, Hope, and Cope Book, by Patricia Rushford interesting and informative.
She is a registered nurse and writes with real compassion for those who are
growing older. The first chapter is titled, "Suddenly They're Older." Isn't
that true! The rest of the world gets older, but suddenly it's your parents
that are getting older and that's a different story.
The author takes you through
the aging process, giving insights into the physical and emotional changes that
take place. When should you step in? Living arrangements, and maintaining independence
while being helped are all subjects discussed from a very practical point of
view. Death and dying, nursing home care, Alzheimer's disease, and legal and
financial needs are all discussed with a real sense of compassion and from a
Christian perspective. The last chapter has a good bibliography, a resource
guide for further information.
Another book I found very
informative is The 36-Hour Day, by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins,
MD. This book addresses the informational needs of a person who is giving care
at home to an Alzheimer's victim. There are chapters on the medical and behavioral
changes which occur. The different forms of dementia and their progression are
explained. It also addresses the medical and emotional needs of the caregiver,
and when and how to seek outside help, ranging from visiting nurses to nursing
homes. This is not written from a Christian perspective, but in no way denies
the spiritual needs of the persons involved, nor is it offensive in any way.
I hesitate to mention the
third book, because it is going out of print. You can get it now, but probably
not for long. It is called My Journey into Alzheimer's Disease, by Robert
Davis. Mr. Davis is a committed Christian and was a pastor of a large church.
He fell victim to Alzheimer's while in his early 50's, which is quite young,
but not unheard of. He writes this book knowing he is failing, and tells you
of his fears, his wrestlings with God, his spiritual struggles. His wife helped
in some chapters as his abilities were decreasing. From the inside we get a
glimpse of this horrible disease, but more than that we see the triumph of a
person who is comforted and helped by his God in the most trying circumstances.
This could be a depressing book, but instead it is one of triumph. If you can't
get this book, check it out at a local library, I'm sure they would have a copy.
Someone has quipped, "Old
age is not for sissies"; neither is the care of the elderly. But there is information
available, and strength and wisdom from the God who loves them and us. May our
Father give grace to help us provide proper care of our aging saints.