A Christian Approach to Elder Care

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A Christian Approach to Elder Care

My dad was a strong robust committed community leader and Christian. But as he aged, dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. His behavior worsened, and we had to put him in an elder care facility. It wasn’t what we expected though, and ended up being an “elder-care-less” facility. Did we do the right thing?

My mother-in-law, displayed a servants heart all her life, helping my wife and me with the kids, helping my brother-in-law with his daughter, and actually led my wife to Christ. But eventually, she became so sick and emotionally distraught that we had to place her in a senior living facility. In the transition, we struggled with emotions and feelings of guilt. Was that the right thing to do?

Elder care is an issue that has concerned mankind for ages.  Many centuries ago, the Jewish philosopher Philo wrestled with this issue, and said, “when old storks become unable to fly, they stay in their nests and are fed by their children, who go to endless exertions to provide their food.” Another ancient thinker, Aristotle, came to the conclusion that, “a man must himself starve before he would see his parents starve.”

Clearly we shouldn’t let our elderly parents starve, but the issues can get complicated.

Is caring for the aged and aging a burden or a blessing?

Unfortunately, lots of us will be facing this situation – if we are not already.

Did you know there are eight times more Americans over 65 than at the turn of this century – their proportion to the rest of the population has almost tripled! This aging of society has raised a bunch of deep  questions:

• What are our responsibilities toward aging family members?

• What can we reasonably expect in our own old age?

• How can people and institutions that serve the elderly preserve values such as autonomy, self-respect, and dignity?

What is the right Christian thing to do.?

One pastor said he believes the church should support our elders – another said the state (i.e. our taxes) should support our elders – which is right?

Also, to whom do we have the responsibility? Do we only have to care for our parents if we have a good relationship with them? In other words, is it “elder care“ for some, and “elder I don’t care“ for others?

In case we are unsure what God thinks about this, Jesus himself rebuked the Pharisees for trying to escape the burden of caring for their aging parents in Mark 7:10-13.

Let’s look at a few other Bible passages dealing with caring for our parents.

Exodus 20:12 says: “Honor your father and mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

Leviticus 19:32 says: “Stand up in the presence of the elderly and show respect for the aged.”

Proverbs 30:17 says: “The eye that mocks a father and scorns obedience to a mother will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures.”

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus said that helping the needy was the same as helping him. Should we do any less for our parents than for anyone else who might be needy?

1 Timothy 5:4, Paul says to Timothy: “If a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.”

The Bible makes it clear that we should care for our parents, but what exactly does that mean?  What about some of these real-life concerns I’ve heard recently: see if you relate to any of them:

“I’d have to live in a crowded house and drive a smaller car if I took care of mom and dad.”

“Mom is getting in the way of our marriage, and my wife and I have no privacy.”

“Dad isn’t a believer, and he might adversely influence my kids if he moves in.”

“My mom is too demanding and cantankerous.”

“My wife and my mom just don’t get along.”

“I can’t differentiate moms real needs from what she complains about.”

“Supporting mom and dad will put us into debt.”

“Taking care of my parents is causing my health to fail.”

So, here’s the question: are these concerns legitimate? Are Christians demonstrating Christian love in the matter of elder care?

Okay, let me come clean about this. These are difficult questions and difficult decisions but here’s the good news, we can deal with these issues by practicing the Four Ps:

  • Pause
  • Ponder
  • Pray
  • Prepare

In order to pause and ponder, ask yourself these questions: Are we willing to sacrifice? Isn’t elder care an opportunity to display Christian love? What do you expect your wife or husband or children to do if and when you are debilitated in your old age?

Next, pray and prepare. Pray sincerely for God’s wisdom and His will, not our own, and prepare for the inevitable. Parents and other family members are aging. You are aging. Take steps and make decisions about these things in advance.

For as James 4:14 says: “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

You can listen to this post via podcast here.

About The Author
Fred Gladney
Fred Gladney
Hello friends, I'm Fred Gladney. After years in the tech world, I now own Trinity Consulting, a sales and management consulting firm specializing in the assessment and optimization of sales organizational structures. I have a B.S. in Math from California University of Pennsylvania and has participated in management development programs at Harvard and Princeton Universities through IBM. In addition to serving on the board at Trochia Ministries, I'm on the board of Far East Broadcasting Company, a non-denominational international Christian radio network. I'm active in my church as an Associate Elder, Bible teacher and lay leader. I live in Southern California with my beautiful family and enjoy podcasting for Trochia in my free time.
58 Comments
Leave a response
  • John Frontera
    March 13, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    AMEN

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  • Sandra Wooden
    March 13, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    WE ARE COMMITTED, TO OUR PARENTS.AS THE OLD SAYING GOES,ONE MOTHER AND ONE FATHER CAN TAKE CARE OF 5 OR 10 CHILDREN, BUT THE FIRST THING COMES OF MIND IS A NURSING HOME. THANK GOD WE DID NOT DO THIS TO OUR PARENTS. THANKS FOR FOLLOWING GOD ALL THE WAY . OUR COUNTRY WOULD BE IN A MUCH BETTER WAY IF WE FOLLOWED GODS COMMANDMENTS AND HIS STATUES.JUST LOOK AT ALL THE CROOKS IN THE GOVERMENT, JUST LIKE IN THE DAYS OF OLD. PRAISE BE TO THE FATHER AND TO THE SON AND HOLY SPIRIT. AMEN

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  • Mary Rice
    March 13, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    i am 82 and very thankful for a daughter and hubby who took me in and put up with me and show luv every day

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  • Irma Villalobos
    March 13, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    AMEN!!!

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  • Linda Taylor
    March 13, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    should be a priviledge

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  • LaRhonda Hamilton
    March 13, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Amen!!!!

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  • Myra Morgan
    March 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I like that!

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  • Myra Morgan
    March 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    my kids dont have time for me now, they will throw me in a ditch when I get to where I cant take care of myself

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  • Debbie Sneddon
    March 13, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Seems it is the other way around in many instances nowadays.

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  • Christine Land
    March 13, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    MY SISTERS AND I TOOK CARE OF OUR DAD UP UNTIL HE DIED IF WASN’T FOR HIM WE WOULDN’T BE HERE, HE TOOK CARE OF US AND HE LOVED US AND WE LOVED HIM IF YOU STILL HAVE BOTH OF YOUR PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS CHERISH THEM AND TELL THEM HOW MUCH YOU LOVE THEM DON’T PUT THE AWAY, IF MY MOTHER WAS HERE WE WOULD HAVE TAKEN CARE OF HER ALSO. SHE GAVE US LIFE GOD HAD CHOSEN WHO OUR PARENTS WOULD BEFORE WE WERE BORN LOVE THEM I HOPE MY CHILDREN FOLLOW MY EXAMPLE AND BE THERE FOR ME AND THEIR DAD.

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  • RichardChambers
    March 13, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    As a retired nurses aide. I felt that was my best job I had. Knowing that they needed my help was a pleasure. I didn’t do my job for pride, but for the love I have for those that had to be placed into a home. They love you but can no longer show it. Praying to God with them can and will help show them your love.

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  • Geri Coulter
    March 13, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I am a Hospice Chaplain, I have seen it all…now my own mom is in need and I feel the exact same way as this post says

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  • Carol Brundage-Wallace
    March 13, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    I was ahome health aide and I loved my job,taking care of the elderly.

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  • Robin Hayes
    March 13, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    This is so strange this post was noi on here when i started my post . god works in mysterious ways.

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  • Linda Dixon
    March 13, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    <3 – AMEN

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  • Margi Hankins Jerde
    March 13, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    thank God i have great kids but if you live around the elderly you will see that is not always the case!

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  • Joe Womble
    March 14, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Amen!!!

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  • Vincenza Testa
    March 14, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Some kids do have the heart to care for their elderly parents but some dont care! Ist a burden for them….

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  • Susan Bailey
    March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Very complex issue. I see history building between parents and children that will not heal in a life time… Making elder care issues
    More complex. I cared for my parents and there was mixed blessings and burdens. Yes it did effect my health.

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  • Susan Bailey
    March 14, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Bear ware of making promises in advance. Guilt is a very heavy and unhealthy burden to bear. Regret is
    When things happen that we are not in control of and cannot change.

    0
  • Carol Red Bird
    March 14, 2013 at 10:33 am

    It’s a beauty caring for the elders, I work in home health care

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  • Sharon Johnson
    March 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    No

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  • Clifford Stepp
    March 15, 2013 at 9:35 am

    My sisters did a lot of that with Mom and Dad. God bless them.

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  • Veronica Wells
    June 25, 2013 at 6:07 am

    A Blessing!!!You can always learn from elders and they deserve all respects and honor!!!

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  • Marcella Jones
    June 25, 2013 at 6:24 am

    Definitely a blessing in so many ways. They give us wisdom, teach us patience, and show us how to have a grateful heart. (^_^)

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  • Raul Jimenez
    June 25, 2013 at 6:38 am

    I agree. I have been taking care of my 82 year old mother now for three months. I feel that this is a blessing from God. Mom asked the Lord for someone to take care of her.

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  • Sharon Harms
    June 25, 2013 at 6:41 am

    There should be kindness in families. God puts a lot of emphasis on families, training up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, talking to them about the Lord and His ways from morning to night, taking care of Dad and Mom when they get old, and of widows and fatherless children.

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  • Gloria Roth
    June 25, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Blessing I believe cause you can learn things that you may have never known about them. It can create a friendship.

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  • Elke Alexander
    June 25, 2013 at 6:54 am

    a big blessing.

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  • Pinky Prettyman
    June 25, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Exactly what it says.I did for the last 2 years of my moms life.It was the best time of my life. No regrets.It was a blessing for me to be with her.Beautiful Memories.

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  • Patricia Grant
    June 25, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Blessing.

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  • LaVerne Day
    June 25, 2013 at 7:10 am

    I really agree with that

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  • Mae Young
    June 25, 2013 at 7:40 am

    Blessing

    0
  • Liz Fontana
    June 25, 2013 at 7:42 am

    A blessing – especially when you don’t have them around to appreciate anymore. I miss them terribly, but know they are together and at peace.

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  • Davoss Murray
    June 25, 2013 at 7:51 am

    A Blessing !

    0
  • Melissa Courvelle Newkirk
    June 25, 2013 at 8:04 am

    A blessing!

    0
  • Donna Branam Cate
    June 25, 2013 at 8:15 am

    it is a great blessing to care for my elderly dad. we enjoy his presence ,humour and godly wisdom . he deserves respect and honor.

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  • Susan Fiske Smith Fellenger
    June 25, 2013 at 8:39 am

    No question, it should always be a blessing… GOD has commanded, “Honor thy mother and thy father.”

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  • Tammy Chilton Eaton
    June 25, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Absolutely a blessing!!!!

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  • Pat Kennedy Copper
    June 25, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Unfortunately for some people, it is not realized until they are gone…

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  • ZacchaeusMy PridenJoy
    June 25, 2013 at 9:05 am

    BLESSING…

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  • Evelyn Borne
    June 25, 2013 at 9:22 am

    An absolute blessing. They didn’t get to be our elders because they didn’t know anything. God Bless the Aged and Powerful.

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  • Heather Golden
    June 25, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Blessing =)

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  • Arlene Escalante Meehleib
    June 25, 2013 at 9:35 am

    It’s a BLESSING absolutely!!! I personally feel it’s the least we can do for them (parents) since they took care of us when we were young ~ Circle of life…… ;*)

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  • Shirley Carthon-Byrd
    June 25, 2013 at 9:50 am

    A Blessing.

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  • Linda J. Duncan-Barnett
    June 25, 2013 at 11:11 am

    A definite blessing

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  • Barbara Parlin
    June 25, 2013 at 11:17 am

    for sure a blessing 🙂

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  • Dave Holcomb
    June 25, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    So True, Thank you.

    0
  • Jennifer Hodges
    June 25, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    im so blessed, actually beyond measure, by the kindness and generosity of my son and his wife!

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  • Annie Rich Duncan
    June 25, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    A BLESSING!!!!!

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  • Jeann'e Cox
    June 25, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Absolutely a blessing, after all my parents have done for me and all they continue to do I will give all for them and I love and respect them that I will care for them till their dying day.

    0
  • Cathy Weaver
    June 25, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    i wished i could do this again

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  • Rosamaria Casias
    June 25, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    A great blessing

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  • Michelle Neda
    June 25, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Amen

    0
  • Donna Lynn Stephens Voluntine
    June 25, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Blessing!!!!!!

    0
  • Mary K Myers
    June 26, 2013 at 5:16 am

    It’s a blessing…

    0
  • Barbara Bettis
    June 26, 2013 at 10:53 am

    It means just what he said,do it the best way u no how and God will help u…

    0

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