How Churches Can Better Serve Seniors with Family Life Professionals3 min read

My 85-year-old mother states that she does not want to move into a retirement home. She loves the old house that she has meticulously maintained, tending her beautiful gardens and pouring love into both for 60+ years. As a family, we see her point.

Would she have a deck with awning that overlooks the woods in a retirement home?

Would she be able to enjoy the outdoors and rake the gumballs from her driveway or swing in the breezeway in a retirement home?

Would she have enough room to house all her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren when they come to visit in a retirement home?

Would she be able to take all her furniture to a retirement home?

Would she have the strength and fortitude to move after all of these years? Why would she want to move?

None of these questions are new. There have been a plethora of articles and research written and conducted on the subject of aging. But when the time comes and these questions arise in your family, you may be forced to take a good hard look at the options, memories, and needs, and search out assistance in making hard decisions.

An Aging Lutheran Community

According to Pew Research Center, there are 10,000 baby boomers reaching the age of 65 every day, and this rate will continue for the next 17 years. What is the church, as a Christian intergenerational organization, doing in the critical area of adulthood and aging?

A Proactive Family Life Program

What if the church did not have to rely on community agencies, or outsource all services for its aging population? Concordia University Ann Arbor’s (CUAA) Family Life program sees the need for workers in God’s kingdom to serve this population – within that Christian intergenerational organization and agencies. The Family Life team is very interested in adding a “major” to its Family Life program to assist the church and the community in this area and is being proactive!

Last winter, 10 very influential, highly-qualified professionals in the field of adulthood and aging gathered at CUAA to explore and discussed what the needs are for this population.

Some of the questions explored included:

  • How could professionals with a career in Family Life as a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE), with a concentration study in adulthood and aging, affect the church?
  • What does a Family Life graduate working as a CFLE need to know (in addition to the core curriculum) to be prepared for the responsibilities of working with senior adults and their families?
  • What skills does a graduate need prior to beginning their work in the church and community with senior adults and their families?
  • What critical contents for new classes would need to be offered in order to prepare Family Life students for working with the adulthood and aging population?

New courses being considered include: Psychology of Aging; Science of Aging; Delivery Models of Services for the Aging; Cultural Competencies and Assessment Skills with Older Adults; and Supporting Families through Final Transitions.

How Your Church Can Better Serve the Elderly

Would you welcome a CFLE from Concordia University to walk alongside you to help your family or congregation? The Family Life program at CUAA is following God’s lead to help assist the jewels of our generation! To God be the glory.

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About the Author

Jennifer graduated with her BA in Elementary Education from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska. She has taught students of all ages, worked in Youth Ministry, been a Project Manager, Production Assistant, Client Coordinator, Admissions Counselor, Executive Assistant to the President at Concordia University, Ann Arbor (CUAA), and Project Manager for the Concordia Center for the Family and the Family Life Department at CUAA. She is married to Ben Freudenburg and shares the grandchildren with him.

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