Speak Out with Chuck - Caring for the Elderly

Chuck Colson's May 24, 2011 BreakPoint broadcast raises the question: Are we prepared to follow God's commands for taking care of the elderly?

Chuck asked you, the listeners, to come to this post and give us your opinion and comments.

Please post your Speak Out comments below and return to read what others are saying. The most recent comments are at the top.

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Caring for the Elderly
In my part of the world - Trinidad, W.I., i am glad to say that we take care of our own. it has always been part of our way of life and in most homes there are extended families. family still means alot even though we are faced with alot of social ills and crime.
Hi Chuck,

I am glad you spent three days explaining to us some of the reasons of gender identity. This kind of explanation is greatly needed in the the public square and more importantly in the church. Many times we as Christinas critize that type of lifestyle but we don't take time to understand why or how gender identity gets developed. I struggle with my gender identity and am glad to hear these type of commentaries. They are refreshing; knowing that God has something to say about this issue as well. It gives me hope...
Caring for Elderly
My mom had the good fortune to be healthy enough to live alone until her death. My mother-in-law suffered a bad fall and was cared for by our family until she died. Our children would do everything possible to care for us if we were unable to care for ourselves. It is our privilege as Christians to care for our families in whatever circumstances may occur and the church needs to be teaching this truth.
"Justifiable" Discrimination
Driving to work, I slid on the ice, and had a collision.

On February 12, 1997, our Lord clearly took me to a higher level of discipleship, by an order of magnitude.

It's now been 5,215 days since I lost my civil rights...

Yes, I know that the US Constitution is no longer in vogue, and that our elected officials hold the biblical convictions of our Founding Fathers in great disdain.

Such is also sadly the case in many of our Christian churches, today. While we worship our Lord, it's done according to our beliefs, as opposed to His biblical mandates.

Romans 8:28 is true, thank God!

So, the depth of my current plight, including the loss of my social/professional status, is NOT for me to fear.

Instead, I fear the Lord my God, and I truly rejoice that He has chosen me to further glorify His name, in this most unique fashion.

"...let Judah go up first..." (Judges 1:2)

Let's lead with PRAISE!
care for elderly
When the Social Security program was conceived we the people were promised an income stream when we were too old to work. It was a covanent with our Government in which they chose to grossly mismanage the funds and allowed it to morph into a giant welfare scam. Indeed, the family and christian churches should shoulder the burden of providing the primary care, but the government owes us the income they promised when we agreed to pay into the system all of our working lives. Social security should be put back where it was intended and maybe it would not be so expensive.
Government Assistance
As the parent of an adult child who has severe multiple disabilities, as son of a mother who has now has severe dementia and receives care in a facility, and as a Christian and a conservative, I have mixed feelings about your commentary. Yes, personal responsibility must extend to care for aging parents, family members with disabilities or who cannot care for themselves for some other reason. We did not choose to pilfer mom's assets as some do, and she has been living off dad's pension, social security, and her savings. But once her savings runs out, I'm very thankful for Medicaid to which mom and dad paid into faithfully for many years so that mom will continue to receive the quality care she receives now.

Additionally, when needs are especially great, responsibility for that care must extend beyond the immediate family or the family will be crushed. My family received the gracious gift of government help in the form of assistants who helped us care for our daughter while she still lived with us. Now, she continues to receive government assistance so that she can live in a group home. Now that she is an adult, it is a blessing to her and to the rest of the family for her to live outside of the home of her parents. I have seen it happen many times that aging parents won't allow their aging adult child with a disability to move out to a group home to the detriment of both parent and the adult child. But few can afford group home costs without government assistance. I firmly believe that not just nuclear families but societies have a responsibility to care for their most vulnerable. This is the clear message of the Old Testament prophets, and needs to be a message of Christians today as well.
I have a 96 year old father-in-law who lives at home with his wife of 91 years old. They are able to manage with a great deal of help from their youngest son. However, care for "Dad" is so exhausting that both care-givers are wearing out. They have paid into the "system" all their lives. So, why should they have to pay their last cent to the government before medicaid kicks in? I think you did not mention the unbelievably high cost of nursing homes. Why are they so expensive? $5000--$7000/month is astronomical. We have searched in vain for care-givers we could bring into the home. It's not that we can't pay them; we can't find them. That's all our in-laws would need is a couple of hours a day for some very basic needs. We will pay for nursing home care if it comes to that, but it's a shame that our in-law's life savings have to go to the government at the end of their lives.
Caring for our elderly
Thank you for opening the door for discussion on this topic. This is a subject that has long been dear to my heart... and has disturbed it greatly as well. I too believe that personally caring for our elderly is all part of God's natural plan for the cycle of life. But for the sake of personal comfort and pleasures we circumvent his plan.

When I've heard my fellow Christians (and church leaders at that) emphatically say that there's no way they can live in the same house with their parent--and refuse to--that seriously concerns me. How can we set an example before the world of Christ's love, compassion, responsibility, overcoming, forgiveness, etc. if we're not willing to invest ourselves into our aging parents' lives? I thoroughly understand that some parents are extremely difficult to get along with, or we might have to sacrifice in many ways to care for them, but hardships are a natural part of life. The problem is we have too long shielded ourselves from its trials and training.

Because of our wealth as a nation, it's been too easy for us Americans to abdicate our responsibilities of caring for needy family members to others. Regrettably we have become a very self-centered people--Christians included.

Sadly too, because we are so busy fighting the need to personally be involved with our aging parent's care, we often miss out on the benefits and joys of doing so.

Yes, there are times we need the help of an outside service to assist with the care of an aging loved one, but that should be the exception not the norm as it is now. No one willingly chooses a life of sacrifice, hardship, grief, or difficulties. So sadly I cannot see our attitudes changing any time soon toward how we care for our elderly. We're going to go kicking and screaming all the way.

But with God's help I know we can do it. Thank God we have Him to help get us through the rough road ahead!
Long-term care
I agree with Chuck about our responsibility to take care of our parents, however each situation is so different that i understand it is not always possible. Still we need to do what we can. I was very fortunate that my dad died while Mom was still able to do much of his care. I came over every morning and helped before going to work. After Dad died, Mom lived by herself for 10 or so years before she needed help. At that time I was able to bring her into my home which had been her home before. With the help of some ladies which we paid hourly wages to assist with meals and general company she lived another couple of years before going home to the Lord. I was blessed in being able to do this and that Mom had a good mind and lacked physical abilities. I'm not sure my brothers or sister would have been able to do this but they thanked me alot for my effort. I hopefully have trained my children to do likewise. My effort at this point is stay as healthy as possible to not put an undue burden on them.
Take care of your elderly parents
Caring for the elderly is a significant challenge to say the least. Now being in my 70’s I see so many that have gone through some of the things I did earlier.
It is the noble and right thing to do to care for an ageing parent. That being said it is very difficult to anticipate their needs. I doubt if my son will ever think of taking care of me or my wife when alone and need care. It is a different generation than when I was younger. Our country has become so dependent on the government to do everything for us and then complain because we are loosing our freedom, not counting on the high taxes we are burdened with. I decided never to retire. When my father did, sickness and all sorts of problems cropped up, mainly from lack of doing anything. Within 5 years he died. On the other hand his dad worked around a small farm and cleaned a store at nights until he was in his early 90’s. Had lots of the things we all have in being elderly, but he hung in there to the end.
My advice to your readers and listeners is do not encourage your seniors to retire. It only hastens their demise. Even in my later years I intend to be of some value to myself, God and country.
The advantage I have over my parents and grandparents is that I know Jesus Christ, he has brought me into his own. Praise the Lord. My family are all LDS and do not know the real Christ. I have my doubts that they will ever see salvation in Jesus Christ. But if they were still around I would gladly take care of them. What an opportunity to witness.
Generational Transfer/Living
My wife and I are continually training our 5 children to value others above self and do to others what they want done to them. While we teach our children these biblical principles, we are also working to demonstrate to them an immense value for the older generation. After many years of dreaming together, we recently built what we call "generational home" with my parents. It's three-story, 5,000 sq. foot home. My parents live on the first floor for privacy, connected by an exterior staircase. My family lives on the two floors above. My sister and brother-in-law live next door. We have invested everything we have into making this happen. We love it! My parents are both 66 yrs. My dad has been fighting multiple myeloma for a year and a half. Regardless of the outcome with cancer, our generational home has provided an opportunity and privilege for us to demonstrate a continuity of care that is being imparted to the next generation. My children (5-12 yrs.) participate in caring for their "Papa" as we are all learning to fight this together. If cancer takes my dad prematurely, I can't think of a better context for my mom to live out her days, surrounded by our loving care and her nine grandchildren.

As a nation, we must begin to ask the overarching question: "How do I want to be cared for when it is my time to face a that stage in life?" I want to begin to create a continuity of care in my family that values life, no matter what stage. How I demonstrate care for my own parents will, in large part, dictate how my children and grandchildren will care for me and future generations. Each preceding generation has sacrificed immeasurably for us all. The least we can do is care for them in their more vulnerable years in life regardless the sacrifice. This is an enduring "inheritance" that will be passed from generation to generation that far outweighs any monetary value...
Caring for the Elderly
It struck me this morning as I scanned my local newspaper that more attention is given to abused animals (which I love also) than to our glorious aging population. Viewing the history packed into the lives of folks say 80 yrs of age now is awesome! Why on earth does that lose its value when the person needs HELP for goodness sakes. We are missing the point completely! The reason we are missing the point is zillions of dollars are being paid to folks for "not so good" care in a "home"! Folks who have lived righteous productive lives are dissed when they no longer can function in every single way.
One thought that taught me forever the example to follow is from a pastor in our homechurch. His wife suddenly at age 54 was diagnosed with alzheimers desease. She is still alive TODAY and that is nearly 27 years later!! He lives in assisted living with her and that was his example. I know with my whole heart that GOD blesses his every breath for his faithfulness. Folks might behave better if we realized that everything is from GOD, HE will be the final decision maker.
One day at a time must be the life we live and one choice at a time directs our path.
Grueling work
Only once have I had to care for the elderly and the sick. I had both my mother-in-law and sister-in-law convalesce at my house for a month. It was the hardest month of my life. I realized what a cushy life I led normally. Things like leaving the house for more than 90 minutes at a time or relaxing in my own family room without the TV on became coveted luxuries. I applaud and admire the folks who care for others on a long term basis. It is grueling work even when you dearly love those you are caring for.
caring for the elderly
My family has taken care of our elders. Each grand parent was moved into my parents' home and provided for until medical intervention was needed near death. I would issue one word of caution here...I watched my mother's father care for his wife after her stroke until he died of a massive stroke himself. He simply wore himself out. We helped as he would let us, but the toll proved to great for him. Yes, we have a moral obligation to help our loved ones, but we need to do it wisely. A visiting nurse three days a week may have prevented his stroke. It certainly would not have hurt. Expensive, yes, but probably a wise thing to have done. I was fortunate to live with both sets of grandparents and an uncle in my life and the experience was worth its weight in gold, even caring for them. That was a blessing of the highest order.
Care of those who need it
Sadly I think the issue is much bigger than just the elderly. I am concerned because as church families we become so involved in our own individual families lives that we don't always offer the support and encouragement that a Christian community could to those who have heavy responsibility to care for someone who is sick, etc. I wonder what our reputation in our communities would be if a church body reached out to help with care and finances whenever a family in the church needed assistance. I have seen this happen for my sister in law who is able to be in her home though quite disabled because her church has made a commitment to her that as a body they will be there to care for her. It has been an amazing and pretty powerful witness in her community.
Caring for the Elderly
I have Parkinson's Disease as a result of my exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. We have decided to convert our own home to be fully handicapped accessible such that should the need arise we will have our "own" nursing home. Our children are more than willing to assist us in our declining years (Christian upbringing?) should the need become evident. But we have taken appropriate steps to minimize some of the major expenses.

However, in the light of the published article, I believe that the FAMILY has the fundamental responsibility to care for ALL members to the point of their real financial ability. There is no scripture, to my knowledge, that in anyway REQUIRES bringing oneself to destitution to care for family memebers. However, this will not be the position of many who do not hold to such a spiritual principle.

The State has decided by the will of the people to provide such care and all of us, whether voluntarily or involuntarily have contributed to that "safety net". Regardless of its present condition (re "bankruptcy?) it is an OBLIGATION the STATE has taken upon itself. This does not mean that personal responsibility is not necessary. It STILL REMAINS in the family.

However, I feel that since as a family I have contributed TO the STATE to enable it to fulfill its MORAL obligation (received money from me on the promise to provide some level of care), that, at the minimum we SHARE that responsibility. I believe that families SHOULD take on the burden of their parents in old age but that there must also be a declared STATE element as well. Otherwise, we would be enabling the STATE (us) to evade the obligation it freely accepted by legislation.

CERTAINLY, the system in place has been severly abused against its original intent, however, that means that such largesses UNRELATED to the primary mission of Social Security or Medicare should be trimmed to provide for that primary purpose. I also feel that means testing should be a factor as well and the State's portion be calculated against the family's responsibility. There are certainly families that have the resources to do it all and I would encourage them to do so as an act of charity to those who are not so fortunate, but this cannot be compelled apart from the urging of God. Truthfully, I would not expect those who don't share the same spiritual convictions to either understand or comply with my concept. But, regardless, the State (again, us) has incurred a freely accepted obligation and they have a moral obligation to adhere to the promises made. Similarly, the family should recognize its moral obligation to care for its own family members to the degree possible. Somewhere between these two princples lies a solution. For those fully capable, I would encourage them to do so and thus leave the relatively scarce resources for needs greater than other families' ability to bear. But that will require that we all consider ourselves members of an integrated society, not merely individuals sharing the same physical boundaries. Scripture tells us to esteem others above ourselves not to sacrifice others for our own needs. The fundamental issue is a spiritual one; do we revere our progenitors or do we discard them in favor or our own desires. YES, there are needs dedicated to our own progeny, however, it is a balance to be individually struck. But we owe respect to our parents, etc. Our children have the potential to do for themselves (if we get the economy straighted out) where are parents no longer have that ability. Consequently, my obligation to my parents is in the gratitude for their sacrifices for me. My intentions for my children are of lesser priority as they are still able to provide for themselves provided they are TAUGHT how to properly manage their DESIRES vs NEEDS. The scriptures teach us to HONOR our fathers and mothers, and as the verse continues, that our lives be long on this earth.
caring for elderly parent
I've been staying with my mom for 3 months. She cannot be left alone. She's in her 90's. This separates my husband and I by many hours driving. We've discussed this and knew it might come. I am tired but not exhausted because I am caring for me too. My husband visited once and will come again soon. Right now there is money for help cleaning once a week, for mowing the lawn and for relief for 15-19 hours a week. I have no idea how long I will be here. But God will be the One who decides when Mom goes to be with Jesus. She is not labeled terminal (although we all are). I also heard your talk on ethics today. Excellent. I will tell my pastor about it. Thank you for all you do to help us know what a Christ-like world view is.
Caring for the Elderly
I was not particularly good to my parents when I was young. Caring for my Dad in my home for 3 years until he died and now for my Mom for 7 years and counting has been redeeming for me. What has always made me uncomfortable, however, is the number of people who tell me they could never do what my wife and I do. I respond that , of course they could, just that they won't. Chuck is right: we have a God-given responsibility to care for our families. Our country is "broke" trying to fill in for us. Time to stop!
The Elderly
Most of us who are rapidly becoming elderly paid for our social security and medicare benefits. These have always been referred to as insurance. They are now being changed to a socialist entitlement. Had they been handled properly from the outset, there would be plenty of resource in place to meet the need at present but sadly, like everything else the government touches . . . I understand that the US government is in a world of hurt, but I still paid for it. Am I to tell my children that my welfare is now their problem?
In the commentary, you mention your autistic grandson and that you are not about to let the state take over that job. This is something that I have been wrestling with. Fortunately we are not in the position right now where we are faced with needing disability or any state/federal assistance, though we have been encouraged to apply for WIC in the past, we have never had the need.
So my question is this, would you place your grandson on disability if you were able to provide for him? Also, is it wrong to apply for and use aid that is available to you if you do not have the need of it or if it? For example, if you had the chance to take college classes as "career training" even if you had not interest in pursuing that career would it be wrong? It feels wrong to me, and I have thought and prayed about it but I can't pinpoint the answer.
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