The “Tsunami” is Coming!3 min read

A “Tsunami” in caregiving is coming—those formerly identified as the “Baby Boomers” are aging and the physical needs of this group are increasing. Look around you. Have you noticed the increase in the building of assisted living and rehabilitation facilities? These businesses have done their homework. They know the market will be there for their services in the coming years as the tsunami of baby boomers approach their seventh decade.

Dave Gehm, president of Lutheran Homes of Michigan, recently shared demographics from the last 60 years in a presentation to the parish nurses and chaplains of the Michigan District, LCMS. In the 60s and 70s the baby boomers were school age. Our congregations responded by providing excellent educational resources and our churches prospered. Now, as this same group approaches their 70s, it seems appropriate for our churches to respond by providing services and programs which will meet the needs of seniors. Another group emerging during this shift is an increase in the number of caregivers; however, many caregivers live great distances away.

Many parish nurses have received calls from a relative or friend and hear these words, “Mom fell last night and broke her hip. We need to find a rehab facility and do not know if she can return to her home.” People who have no experience with healthcare resources often have no idea what questions to ask or what resources are available. This is a great opportunity for the church to have an impact on the lives of seniors and caregivers—to provide love, care, and hope for the future as Christ’s hands and feet in this world.

Here are some ideas how parish nurses and church members can work together to provide for seniors and caregivers:

  • Education: Hold classes on home safety, personal assistance devices, end of life preparation, and assessment tools on when to move to an assisted living facility.
  • Advocacy: Help seniors and caregivers “ask the questions” of their healthcare providers regarding care or end of life decisions.
  • Referrals: Provide referrals to trusted community and hospital resources for in-home assistance, homecare nursing, and support groups.
  • Support Groups: Form a caregiver support group to help prevent the “burn-out” which affects so many caregivers.
  • Volunteers: Assist seniors and caregivers with errands, home repairs, meals, transportation, and respite care.

I recently had a gentleman who approached me; his wife had Alzheimer’s disease. They were long-time members of our church. He shared with me that he never pictured himself as able to be a caregiver, but as his wife became more debilitated it was a role in which he found himself. In the beginning he refused help or offers to attend a support group, but as the task became more difficult he began attending a caregiver support group. He found understanding people who knew what he was experiencing, along with advice on how to handle various situations. Through the support group, he was encouraged to contact the Alzheimer’s Association, where he met with a counselor. She provided invaluable assistance in using community resources and making difficult decisions as his wife’s condition deteriorated. Members of the congregation also stepped up; some came and sat with her so he could run errands. Others brought meals. His fishing and hunting buddies called weekly to check on him. Finally, the decision was made for hospice care and they both received great support. On a recent visit, this gentleman told me he could never have fulfilled his marriage vow, of being faithful unto death, without this type of help and support. His wife went to be with her Lord and now he sees his purpose as sharing his story and encouraging caregivers to seek the care and support available from the church and community.

As we move into the coming years, pray that our churches will be places that provide care and support to seniors and their caregivers. As we do this, our communities will say “see how they love one another!”

Lutheran Homes of Michigan helps seniors live their God-given, precious lives to the fullest, no matter their age, location, situation or circumstances. To learn more about their ministry, visit

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