Numerous research studies in recent years have focused on successful aging. These research projects have emphasized the importance of aging, spirituality and holistic wellness. These findings indicate that a healthy spiritual dimension in the life of the elder is an important factor in the successful aging and holistic healing process of 62-74% of elders.
In more than a quarter century of providing pastoral care to residents of long term care facilities, it is clear that spirituality and religion are important ingredients that can have a positive impact on the successful aging process of most elders. Is our Catholic Church Community actively involved in meaningful senior adult ministry? What is the meaning of life? What gives and enhances meaning to the lives of our elders? These are fundamental questions that will give focus to our ministry with our parish elders.
The Church of the New Millennium is a “graying Church.” If the Catholic Church of 2011 and beyond is to be a meaningful church to a major part of its members, it must look at issues that will impact those who will be age 65 and over! Assessing the holistic needs of our elders and becoming aware of available community resources to meet those needs are the first steps in ministering to the elder community. Where gaps in services exist, new ministries can be developed to serve our elder Church — Who will be our ministers?
Opportunities in our parishes that can provide for a deepening spiritual life for our elders are some of the following:
People who live longer will continue to deal with health issues, especially chronic but also sub-acute and acute.
Parish Wellness and/or Parish Nurse Programs have the potential to impact the health care of our elders. Many areas in the twenty counties serving the Diocese of Sacramento provide this service. Unfortunately, the Catholic Church is lagging behind in this area compared to our Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist brothers and sisters. By providing education, information and resources on a variety of health issues, to offering monthly blood pressure checks and providing follow-up care for a parishioner who has been released from the hospital, the Parish Wellness Team becomes an integral part of the healing ministry of Christ, adding to the quality of life of the elders of our Catholic Church. Areas of involvement could include:
Mercy Faith & Health Partnership
Dignity Health and the local Mercy hospitals offer support to faith communities in developing Health Ministry (Parish Wellness) and Faith Community Nurse (Parish Nurse) programs. For more information contact Ms. Susan Carson at (916) 851-2094 or Susan.Carson@DignityHealth.org