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Aging: Creating a Culture of Care

General Assembly 2014 Event 244

This event, sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Society of Community Ministries, is scheduled to occur on Thursday, June 26, 2014; 2:15 - 3:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, in Rhode Island Convention Center West Lobby.

Program Description

The “silver tsunami” has arrived. This program provides practical guidance in meeting the needs of our aging population, grounded in a theology of interdependence. It addresses specific needs of the elderly in relationship to their congregations, friends and family as our culture makes transitions through the aging process.



Download this outline with images (PDF, 6 pages).

  1. Defining your vision

    •  Caring ministry rather than caring committee
    •  Goal is to become an ecclesia assembly of caregivers

      • This is what it means to be church
      • 67% rule
      • No such thing as a primary caregiver
      • Care receivers can also be caregivers! o Inter-generational participation
  2. Theology
    •  Worth—Dignity—Solidarity—Compassion—Empathy
    •  Inter-dependence: A love of mutual regard

      • Promotes dignity by allowing/expecting to give as well as receive
      • Caring with—not caring for
      • Decreases self sacrifice and promotes self care
      • Increases autonomy
      • Shared responsibility rather than equal responsibilities
    • Covenant: What are our response-abilities?
  3. Caring with our Heads, Hands, and Hearts
    • HEADS—Be willing to learn

      • Dementia care
      • Long distance caregiving
      • Life care planning
      • Accessibility
      • Memorial services
      • Elder abuse
      • Nursing home reform
      • Safety at home
      • Safety at church
      • Lifting and transferring
      • Resource fairs
      • Legal issues
      • Financial planning
      • Caregiver support
      • Hospital visitation
    • HANDS—Physical presence
      • Food
      • Transportation
      • Visits
      • Yard work
      • Construction
      • Respite
    • HEARTS—Spiritual presence

      • Greeting cards
      • Prayers
      • Phone calls
  4. The Community Responds—The Logistics
    • Referrals

      • Minister
      • Family
      • Grapevine—Fact or rumor
    • Eligibility

      • Care for those present within congregational life
      • Care for those who are missing from congregational life

        • Care-receiver
        • Partner/Spouse/Primary caregiver
    • Assessment of Needs

      • When to intervene

        • Life Crisis Forms
        • If in doubt ask
        • Compassionate confrontation
        • When to wait
        • Give permission to receive help
      • Home visits
      • Support systems
      • Barriers

        • Transportation
        • Accessibility (vision, hearing, comfort, wheelchair etc.)
        • Financial issues
        • Fatigue or exhaustion
      • Legal

        • Power of Attorney
        • Health Care Surrogate
        • Advanced Directives
      • Confidentiality
      • When to cease intervention

        • Dependency
        • Illegitimate need
    • Establish the Assembly of Caregivers

      • Preach it!
      • Be the model of care-giving and invite others to join you
      • Collaborate

        • Ministers
        • Social Justice Committee
        • Care Team meetings

          • Assessment and re-assessment of success of service
          • Prevent duplication of service or absence of service
        • Membership Committee

          • Ensure elders are invited into and can participate in congregational life
      • Build relationships ... Create care teams

        • Establish “parishes”
        • Pin-map” neighborhoods by zip code
        • “Get to know your neighbor parties”
  5. Ideas: Just to name a few
    • Care beyond caroling: Every home bound or nursing home resident needs to be visited throughout the year.
    • Care beyond casseroles: Prepare meals and eat with residents in their homes. Company is as nourishing as the food itself.
    • There is no excuse for not visiting elders in nursing homes.

      • If it is “too depressing” then work for nursing home reform!
      • Offer worship and religious education in nursing and retirement homes.
    • Coordinate care with members of neighboring congregations.
    • Establish a “buddy system” for those require attention while at church.
    • Establish a “hello daily” program and a phone tree for emergency contacts.
    • Schedule an inter-generational workday to do home repairs or yard work.
    • Make home safety kits with flashlights, de-icer, and batteries etc.
  6. A Few Caveats
    • Beware of compassion fatigue. takes an assembly of caregivers.
    • The needs of caregivers are every bit as important and the needs of care receivers.
    • Do not underestimate the power of small acts of kindness and care.
    • Have compassion for yourself so there is compassion in the room.

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