We are grateful to our church elders for recognizing the need to minister to the elderly people who reside in our community’s assisted living facility, and for their desire to impact the residents, their families and over time the community at large with the love of Jesus Christ. We appreciate the confidence and support bestowed upon us in designing a ministry plan to care for both member and non-member elderly residents. It is our goal to establish a ministry that will be the “hands and feet” of Christ, exemplifying His love and care for the aging in an encouraging positive manner through ministry programs that are relevant and meaningful.
Working in conjunction with our local assisted living facility which greatly welcomes volunteer assistance, each ministry leader has prepared a proposal for a particular area that has been identified as pertinent to aging adults. The following proposal is divided into seven sub-ministry areas, identifying the dynamic relationship on aging and the impact our ministries will make:
The purpose of exercise in the context of this ministry to aging adults is to assist in overall physical health and mental acuity and aid in an enjoyable time of social interaction to enhance one’s overall quality of life.
Time with older adults will offer the leaders and team members an opportunity to interact and build relationships with people leading to spiritual conversations and encouragement.
Older adults who exercise regularly may slow the onset and progression of chronic disease and limit the development of disabling conditions while increasing active life expectancy, and may experience significant psychological and cognitive benefits (Chodzko-Zajko, 2009). Guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine regarding types and amounts of physical exercise for older adults include consistent aerobic exercise, muscular strength training, and flexibility (Chodzko-Zajko, 2009). Other studies suggest that physical exercise may be as effective as drug treatment for cognitive impairment in the aging brain (Asha, 2009). Scientific studies recommend that staying physically active, eating a heart-healthy diet and having social involvement may help maintain not only body, but also brain health (Corwin, 2009).
The activities director at this facility leads a physical exercise session with the residents each morning five days a week. There are a number of things this ministry can do to assist. As leaders and team members come to implement each area of ministry, they will make themselves available to develop friendships with the residents and encourage residents in physical exercise, in life, and in their walk with God, while welcoming others toward a relationship with Jesus Christ.
1. There is an ongoing need for educated speakers to encourage the residents regarding the overall health benefits of physical and cognitive exercise along with the impact of eating well and having an active social life. This ministry leader will invite individual believers in Christ who work in various fields related to physical exercise and health disciplines to come every other month to speak and encourage the residents.
Presently we have in our church a wellness coordinator, a nurse, several medical students, an exercise physiologist, a strength trainer, a nutritionist, and a psychologist with a specialty in geriatrics, as well as a social worker who has worked with many senior citizens with cognitive impairments. Each of these individuals will be happy to make a presentation to the residents regarding the need for a consistent, healthy life style and why it is important for older adults. The speakers will be encouraged to end their presentation by addressing the following question from a biblical perspective, “Why should I care about exercise or want to improve my life when I won’t be around much longer?” and point out the worth each person has to God and the value they bring to every relationship, and to life in general (Psalm 139, New International Version).
2. Many of the residents are unable to go outside for walks unassisted. A team of people have volunteered to visit on a regular basis to walk outside with residents, and continue their walks and friendships inside in inclement weather.
3. The strength trainer at our church has volunteered to teach and assist residents in their use of weights and then lead a time of weight training on an ongoing basis as a part of this ministry. He will also train other members to assist and lead in this area of ministry. Included with his strength training he plans to talk about the strength found in Jesus Christ.
4. A dance instructor at our church has volunteered to do flexibility training along with teaching line dancing, even with a wheel chair section, and then hold dances every other month.
The improvements in offerings related to the area of exercise fulfill the ministry purpose of helping residents have a better quality of life, and the overall purpose of encouraging them through an expression of God’s love while pointing people to the hope found in Jesus Christ.