CIESIELSKI: Supporting aging … Did you know?
February 22, 2022
How well are you prepared to face the challenges of aging? Recently after visiting my 98-year-old mother in an out-of-state assisted living facility, I connected with some friends in nearby Chicago.
While exchanging stories of caring for our aging parents, I inquired whether this couple had talked to their parents about having a contingency plan in case their parents could no longer care for themselves. The husband remarked that he had asked his dad what his plan was for care if he could no longer care for himself or his wife.
His father’s reply was short and curt: “It’s you!” The abrupt response seemed to serve as a wake-up call for my friend to consider how to address some of his parents’ more urgent aging issues: diminished driving ability, home maintenance, health care needs, repeated falling, etc. In that light, I would like to offer a blueprint to guide a pastoral response to these challenges.
Let’s start by asking: What is your plan for your own or your loved ones’ care when facing diminished capacity with self-care? It might help if you’re not-so-easy answer includes the perspective that you are not so much trying to maintain your independence as it is trying to secure trusted people who can support you or your loved ones in need. This sense of interdependence reflects our understanding of Christian community life, whereby members of the Body of Christ help those who are in need.
• Did you know that one of the hardest parts of starting the plan is how to start conversations with your loved ones about your concerns?
Some of the toughest conversations I have had as an adult have been to discuss with my parents how to support their aging with dignity and grace. You can start by exercising respectful mutual listening combined with a prayer to the Holy Spirit, asking for wisdom, knowledge and courage. This can help you manage anxious thoughts or feelings as you remain anchored in the power of the Holy Spirit to enlighten and strengthen your path forward.
• Did you know that the Office of Aging has resources to help you develop a plan through a step-by-step approach while you still have the capacity to have some control of your wishes?
The Office of Aging web page at www.archgh.org/aging offers written, audio, and video resources to help start conversations and create a respectful care plan. Content includes topics on Caregiving, Aging in Place, and End-of-Life Care. In addition, there is a resource, Directory for Senior Living, that can help connect you with spiritual and trusted community resources.
• Did you know that the Office of Aging can provide your parish with educational presenters who can address a variety of aging issues such as Creating Wills and Advance Directives, In-Home Care, Memory Care Support, and Fraud Abuse Protection?
For additional information or assistance, contact the Office of Aging at email@example.com or call 713-741-8712.
Mark Ciesielski is the director of the Office of Aging.