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Caregiving Part 5: Spirituality

Caregiving. My husband and I moved in with my mother when my father passed away a year and a half ago. Mom is a fragile 91-year-old. Her health is not good, but her mind is phenomenal. Today I drove Mom and her friend to their church for a special service. We stayed afterward for the end-of-the-year Women’s Club luncheon. The women chatted, laughed, and enjoyed fellowship with their friends. You might ask why I chauffer my mother around like this; I do it because I love my mother and I want her to continue to enjoy the church she has attended for the past 50 years. It is there she fellowships with her friends and shares a spiritual connection with others and the Lord.

As a caregiver, our concerns usually center around our parents’ emotional, physical and social life. One aspect often lacking in caregiving is an interest in the elderly’s spiritual life. Whether you are a part-time caregiver or a full-time caregiver, giving yourself to the spiritual needs concerning your parents is truly a privilege.

For those who take their spirituality seriously, a sense of purpose and fulfillment undergirds their lives. Despite this fact, some do not understand or take seriously this component of another’s life. Understanding spirituality is complicated because there are so many scenarios and so many definitions of spirituality at play. They involve answering questions such as:

  • Are you a part-time caregiver or a full-time caregiver?
  • Are your parents living in the same town or city as you are?
  • Are you a strong believer, a ‘sort of’ religious person, or an uninterested individual?
  • Have your parents lived a dedicated life for Christ and the church? Have they attended church sporadically? Or, have they rarely explored any ‘religious’ life?

Once you mix and match all these different dynamics together, it’s time to discern and pray about your part in your parents’ spiritual life. Regardless of your parents’ spiritual background, caring for them is one of the most compassionate undertakings you or your siblings can pursue. Included in regular caregiving responsibilities, being a part of allowing your parents to pursue or continue their interests in God, church, and spiritual growth is an important part of caregiving.

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

Your Parents

Many seniors who have attended church all their lives develop a deeper desire for the things of God when they get older; but many do not. Some glide into old age making their spirituality more of an inward feat and not a community feat. In Spirituality and Aging, Sociology Professor Emeritus at Marquette University David O. Moberg says, “Many scientists who study spirituality and aging have concluded that spirituality increases with age. However, it is also important to acknowledge that other prominent researchers disagree with this premise.” ¹ Gerontologists are starting to see how the spiritual life regarding their patients yields an unexplainable peace and calmness as they face the future. As a result, their physical well-being is often affected in a positive way. They see their patients with faith as possessing strength and tranquility regarding their future.

Driving Forces Why Seniors Depend on God

  • Many seniors are concerned about their death and the afterlife.
  • Their faith provides strength as they face illnesses, loss of friends, and loneliness.
  • They have more time to pray and read their Bible.
  • Concern over a reduced income and the ability to meet their needs.
  • A renewed or deepening dependence and guidance by the Holy Spirit.

At a time when seniors tackle new challenges, many undergo losing their support systems. This should be a huge consideration in churches as “baby boomers” are starting to fit into the senior adult category.

Driving Forces Why Seniors Abandon their Faith and Church

  • Lack of activities for seniors—Feeling of alienation may occur when more emphasis is given to youth ministries, young adult ministries, or any ministries besides senior adult ministries.
  • Miss traditions—They feel left out, unwanted, unneeded in the congregation. Seniors enjoy the familiarity of things past, i.e. hymns, Sunday dinners, fellowship luncheons.
  • Difficulty adjusting to change—The new programs and facilities are too much for them. Adjusting to change is especially hard for the aging population.
  • Hearing loss—They can’t hear the preacher or Sunday school teacher.
  • Stimulating services (music, yelling, confusion)—The British Alzheimer’s Society discusses noise triggers by saying, “[People with Alzheimer’s] feel bewildered or anxious because there is too much noise, too many people around, or a change in a familiar routine.”
  • Other disabilities—There may not be handicapped parking or wheelchair accommodations at the church. They may be unable to get to church due to disability or inability to drive themselves. Or maybe, there is too much walking to get to their classes or sanctuary easily.

Caregiving and You

As a family caregiver member, it is imperative for you to be cognizant of your parents’ needs. This includes their spiritual needs.

Practical Ways You Can Help

  • If you live in the same town or city as your parents, bring them to church and church functions.
  • If you live out-of-town, contact their church organization, friends, or other family members to set up transportation.
  • If your parents are in a facility, investigate what kind of spiritual activities that are available.
  • Make their living environment familiar and comfortable, i.e. put their favorite cross in their room, be sure their Bible is easily accessible.
  • Provide notecards, stamps, and addresses so they can write and minister to their friends.
  • Get their hearing checked by an audiologist.
  • Get their eyesight checked by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.
  • Purchase a large-print Bible for them if needed.
  • And, if you or family members live in the same city or town, be sure to visit them!

Whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)

Questions Caregivers Must Ask

  • What hindrances are my parents facing?
  • My parents used to attend church. Why don’t they go now?
  • How do I approach my unbelieving parents about Jesus Christ?

These are just a few of the many questions caregivers might have. You may want to spend some time thinking, meditating, and praying for what questions need to be asked and how you can be a part of the solution.

How to Pray: Ten Tips for a Better Prayer Life

Keep Yourself in Top Spiritual Shape

Being connected to God’s divine source can help you manage better as your caregiving duties progress. Continuing or starting to seek God’s presence and strength in your life will assist you as you care for and minister to your loved ones. Understanding you are not perfect alleviates a mindset of inadequacy. Remind yourself of all your parents have done for you. If they haven’t done much, it is time to ask God how He wants you to treat them and care for them regardless of the past. God is available to help you as you support your parents. By being their caregiver, you can be assured, God has given you a divine assignment—one that you won’t regret.

Salvation and Eternal Life

On our most recent visit to my mother’s oncologist, we were discussing mom’s diagnosis and future prognosis. In his matter-of-fact intonation, he said, “Mrs. —————, life is a terminal illness!” While we don’t want to think about life like this, it is true. We all will die and face an eternal future.

As we live our earthly life, let us be ever mindful about our eternal destination. Gaining an understanding of our future existence is significant in understanding life-and-death anxieties and angsts.

Both caregivers and parents and all humanity will die. CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) discusses four laws in the booklet “Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?” ²

Four Spiritual Laws

Law 1: God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.

John 3:16

Law 2: Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life.

Romans 3:23

Law 3: Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through Him, you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.

John 14:6

Law 4: We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.

Revelation 3:20

A Heart-to-Heart Prayer

If you or your parents have not accepted Jesus Christ, now is the time to have a frank conversation with God. If you are unsure how to pray for God’s salvation, a simple well-meaning prayer can be the best decision for both of your lives.

Dear God, I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that you raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.” ³

If you have accepted Jesus Christ but your parents haven’t, now is the time to have a candid heart-to-heart with them.

Eight days before my father passed away, I had a candid heart-to-heart with him. He prayed a prayer akin to the prayer written above. As we sat on his couch at 5 am we quietly talked together and talked to God. Some may call this a deathbed conversion. No matter what it is called, my father accepted Jesus Christ and God used me to help him make the best decision of his life.

Caretaking means being responsible for various aspects of your parents’ life. As we face our parents’ sundown years, let’s do what we can to help them hold on to, delight in, and agree to take part in their spiritual life while at the same time progressing and preserving our own spiritual life.

Do You Fear Death?

Bible Verses: See above.


Dear heavenly Father, as I consider all the needs of my parents, let me be mindful of their whole being. I pray for their emotional, physical, social, and spiritual life. Make me aware of their needs. Let me offer my help. Give us both peace. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

God Bless,

Member Inspirational Writers Alive; Bible Gateway Blogger Grid Member

Edited by E. Johnson; Bible verses are taken from the NASB if not noted otherwise.

Works Cited/Bibliography

¹ Spirituality and Aging. http://www.nap411.com. Accessed 10 May 2017.

² Greene, Patti. Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer. Bloomington: WestBow, 2016. [Permission given from CRU for Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws summary.]

³ Begin Your Journey to Peace. www.peacewithgod.net. Accessed 10 May 2017.

Coming Soon: Caregiving Part 6: How to Prepare, Embrace, and Survive the Final Moments

If you found this post helpful, please like/share it so others can get the benefit. Thanks. If you would like to receive email notifications of new posts or to receive monthly newsletters, please click here and scroll down on www.GreenePastures.org to subscribe.

Books by Patti Greene

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Caregiving Part 2: Getting Your Parents’ Affairs in Order

As a caregiver, one the most important things you can do for yourself and for your aging parents is to have a conversation with them about their legal, medical, and financial affairs. It is often left up to the children to address these issues and get the ball rolling before a crisis is upon the family.

A story was told about three daughters who tried to have that talk with their mother, but she would always avoid the topic by steering the conversation in a different direction. Their mother then passed away unexpectedly after at the age of 74 after falling down a flight of stairs. Since the conversation never took place, they were left learning that their mother had a mortgage on her house and the bank which held it could not divulge any information to the daughters without a death certificate. The girls found some items where they expected to find them, but then they found their mother’s insurance policy in a knitting bag.¹ Situations like these create frustration and stress as children try to handle the affairs of others before and after their parent’s death.

Often relatives are capable of setting their loved one’s affairs in order. Other times legal, medical, and financial help is needed to obtain the correct advice and documents.

A legal specialty called “elder law” helps families find specific help and advice to ensure their health and wealth is protected from upcoming legal issues, medical decisions, and money questions. An elder care attorney can usually help you see through your parent’s information. The result is an efficient approach to get you going in the right direction. Some families utilize their doctors, their financial advisers, and their own personal attorneys to reach the same goal. Different states have different laws and procedures for end-of-life planning, so it is always best to check what the laws are in your state as some may require a witness, a notary signature, or an attorney signature.

No matter which route you choose, be proactive. With so many terms related to elder care planning, I have chosen to give you a list compiled from various sources that will help you know what might be needed in your own situation. Sometimes the three areas of legal, medical, and financial overlap and other times an issue will fall directly under one category.

But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15)

Legal Terms

Will/Trust – It is essential to have an up-to-date will and/or trust that designates financial, estate, and legal control and distribution. You and/or the elder may have few assets, but even with simple estates, it is generally advisable to have an attorney create a document that will protect the elder’s wishes about his or her estate.

Many people confuse a will with a trust. They both create designations for one’s assets.

Elder Law Answers, a long-term care and planning resource website, distinguishes the two by stating that the main difference is that a will and a trust is that a will goes into effect only after you die, while a trust takes effect as soon as you create it. A will is a document that directs who will receive your property at your death and it appoints a legal representative to carry out your wishes. By contrast, a trust can be used to begin distributing property before death, at death or afterward.

Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) – A document that grants a person or persons (“Attorney-in-fact”) the legal powers to perform on behalf of the elder (“Grantor”) certain acts and functions specifically outlined in the document. This power is effective immediately and continues even if the grantor becomes disabled or incompetent. The powers usually granted include real estate, banking and financial transactions, personal and family maintenance, government benefits, estate trust and beneficiary transactions.

Advance Directive – Written instructions regarding an individual’s medical care preferences. The forms vary from state to state, but in general, advance directives can include a Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy, and a Do Not Resuscitate or Do Not Intubate Order (DNR or DNI). You do not necessarily need a lawyer to create these. ²

“An advance directive goes into effect only if you are incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself.” ³

Medical Terms

Advance directives are for people of all ages who might face any medical emergency or crisis. By maintaining up-to-date advance directives, you can be sure the medical treatment you want is carried out. It also relieves family members from making the gut-wrenching decisions that might occur in emergency situations. Be sure your family knows where these documents are and keep them in a handy, accessible location.

CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) – [Resuscitation that] might restore your heartbeat if your heart stops or is a life-threatening abnormal rhythm.”

Ventilator Use – Ventilators are machines that help you to breathe. A tube connected to the ventilator is put through the throat into the trachea (windpipe) so the machine can force air into the lungs. Putting the tube down the throat is called intubation.

Comfort Care – Comfort care is anything that can be done to soothe you and relieve suffering while staying in line with your wishes.

Hospice Care – [Provides] comfort to you and your family during a life-threatening illness, rather than provide treatments to cure the illness.

Palliative Care – [This is] similar to comfort care in hospice, but it is offered along with any medical treatments you might be receiving for a life-threatening illness.

Living Will – A written document that helps you tell doctors how you want to be treated if you are dying or permanently unconscious and cannot make decisions about emergency treatment. [It is important to note that a living will is different from the legal will mentioned above.]

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care – A legal document naming a healthcare proxy, someone to make medical decisions for you at times when you might not be able to do so.

DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) – Tells medical staff in a hospital or nursing facility that you do not want them to try to return your heart to a normal rhythm if it stops or is beating unevenly. [Take this to the hospital and be sure your doctor has a copy of this document.]

DNI (Do Not Intubate) – Will alert emergency medical staff in a hospital or nursing facility that you do not want to be put on a breathing machine. [Take this to the hospital and be sure your doctor as a copy of this document.]

Organ and Tissue Donation – Allows organs or body parts from a generally healthy person who has died to be transplanted into people who need them. ³

HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) – MedicineNet.com defines HIPPA as “a U.S. law designed to provide privacy standards to protect patients’ medical records and other health information provided to health plans, doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.”

To have access to your loved one’s medical records, written permission must be given. Doctors, hospitals, other providers of healthcare have HIPPA release forms for their patients to sign. These release forms authorize all or some medical information to be disclosed to other individuals or organizations. Checking to be sure you have access to your loved one’s medical records is important.

Financial Terms

The time may come when the elderly parent is not able to handle their own finances. This could be due to mental or physical impairment, visual difficulties, falling prey to scams, or the death of a spouse who handled the finances. Don’t be afraid to step in to be sure financial losses do not occur. With the advent of the computers, the elderly may easily transfer money, buy or sell stocks, or give money away without a family member even knowing. You may need to assess the situation and find out what tools will help prevent unfortunate situations from occurring.

Joint Accounts – The elder can add you or another relative to a checking account as a joint account holder. This makes you a joint owner of the funds — both you and your loved one can withdraw and deposit money and write checks. It allows the elder to maintain some independence and control and allows you to keep an eye on things, pay bills, and handle some (but not all) financial affairs.

Single-Owner Accounts with an Authorized Signer – Your older relative can add you as an authorized signer on a checking or savings account, without making you a joint owner. This means you can write checks and withdraw and deposit funds. However, because you are not an owner of the account, all transactions must be made on behalf of the elder.

Automatic Payments – You can ease the bill paying burden by helping your older relative set up electronic automatic payments or withdrawals for monthly bills.

Representative Payee for Social Security Benefits – The elder can designate you as their representative payee for Social Security benefits. A representative payee receives the Social Security benefit checks and is responsible for using the funds on behalf of the elder.

Financial Power of Attorney – With a financial power of attorney, the elder gives another person legal authority to act on their behalf. ⁴

In addition, if your loved one has an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), stocks, mutual funds, or other accounts with financial institutions, a call to those businesses might be in order. They will be able to direct you as to handling the daunting situation you may be facing with your parent’s financial matters.

Just Do It

Let’s face it: you may not feel equipped to initiate a conversation about the legal, medical, and financial decisions that you may encounter. But, when we approach our elders with kindness, listen to their opinions, and let them know that we are on their side to help them to make these decisions, we can proceed with confidence that we are carrying out their desires.

And by doing so, we are honoring our parents. The apostle Paul summed it up accurately when he writes, “Honor your father and mother. This is the first of God’s Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. And this is the promise: that if you honor your father and mother, yours will be a long life, full of blessing.” (Ephesians 6:23 LB.)

Bible Verses:

The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40)

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged. (2 Timothy 2:24)

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)


Lord, thank You for the many resources where I can find information to help me with my parent’s legal, medical, and financial needs. Make me aware of information that is pertinent to the care of my parents. I truly want to be the best caregiver I can be. I need Your guidance and help. Let me love like You loved. Let me serve like You served. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

God Bless,

Member Inspirational Writers Alive; Bible Gateway Blogger Grid Member

Coming Soon: Caregiving Part 3: Being Your Parents’ Advocate

Edited by E. Johnson; Bible verses are taken from the NASB if not noted otherwise.

Works Cited/Bibliography

¹ Siegel Bernard, Tara. The Talk You Didn’t Have with Your Parents Could Cost. New York Times, 24 May. www.nytimes.com. Accessed 22 April 2017.

² Caring for Your Parents: Legal Issues, PBS, pbs.org. Accessed 22 April 2017.

³ Advance CARE Planning: Tips from the National Institute on Aging. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. WEB. Accessed 22 April 2017.

⁴ Michon, Kathleen. First Steps to Managing an Elder’s Finances. nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/helping-seniors-manage-money-finances-32268-2.html. Accessed 22 April 2017.

If you found this post helpful, please like/share it so others can get the benefit. Thanks. If you would like to receive email notifications of new posts or to receive monthly newsletters, please click here and scroll down on www.GreenePastures.org to subscribe.

Books by Patti Greene

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here