Caring for an Aged Loved One

Many of us have parents, a spouse, and other family members who are, or will soon, face the inevitable challenges of failing health. As Christians, we understand that sickness and death are part of living in a fallen world. But all the same we are often unprepared for these realities to affect our own loved ones. As time marches onward and the burden of care falls to the younger generation, here are some things to think about concerning the care of aging loved ones.

Lingering Grief

Long before an aging spouse or parent takes their final breath, you will experience an underlying grief as you observe the loss of vitality, strength, mental faculties, and other traits that make them the person you love. Along with the physical and emotional exhaustion this season can bring, you may even feel yourself slipping into a season of melancholy or depression. Recognize that such emotions are completely normal. They testify to just how valuable this person is to you. If you would like to seek the help of a counselor, as many caregivers in this situation do, feel free to reach out to any of our clergy for recommendations.

Changing Roles

The care-giving child gradually becomes the parent. The care-giving spouse is no longer able to rely on her husband’s strength or his wife’s support. Primary caregivers can also encounter strained relationships with other members of the family who may expect things to be done a different way, and may question the difficult decisions that have been made. In one way or another, these relationships will change as a loved one’s health deteriorates. This inevitable change highlights the importance of the one relationship in our lives that never changes, and that is our relationship to Jesus Christ. In the midst of a world that is growing old and passing away, it is all the more important to cling to the One who does not grow old, and does not pass away.

Family Stress

For those who are married and raising their own children, caring for an aging loved one can add tremendous stress to the family dynamic. Often there are financial concerns that add to the stress level as well. There is less time, less energy, less patience with childhood irresponsibility, and less ability to give everyone the attention they need. As much as it is possible, it is important to involve the whole family in the care-giving experience. Even young children can hold a hand or give a hug. A phone call from a grandchild or great-grandchild can be the highlight of an aging person’s week! Everyone will need God’s special grace in this difficult season, so be intentional about giving others opportunities to participate in what can be described as the ultimate family service project. child, and that he is wildly in love with you. He’s got the whole world—your life, your child’s life—in His hands.

Special Grace

The most common duties that caregivers handle are transportation, grocery shopping, household chores, help with medications, and assistance with bathing and dressing. Despite the humble nature of such activities, caregivers often use words like “rewarding” and “joyful” to describe the care-giving process. Clearly, God gives a special grace to those who humble themselves to serve the aging and ailing. However, that does not make the burdens of these little necessities easy. Caring for an aging loved one is not all flowers and sunshine. It is hard work, plain and simple. Nevertheless, through the difficulties of these sacrifices that only God can see, we can find hope in Jesus’ words that “Inasmuch as you have done this unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me” (Matthew 25.40). In caring for our aging loved ones, we are caring for Christ himself.

Prayer

For A Sick Person

O Father of mercies and God of all comfort, our only help in time of need: We humbly beseech thee to behold, visit, and relieve thy sick servant [name] for whom our prayers are desired. Look upon him with the eyes of thy mercy; comfort him with a sense of thy goodness; preserve him from the temptations of the enemy; and give him patience under his affliction. In thy good time, restore him to health, and enable him to lead the rest of his life in thy fear, and to thy glory; and grant that he may dwell with thee in life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, 458

Prayers For Use By A Sick Person

Book of Common Prayer, 461

For Trust In God
O God, the source of all health: So fill my heart with faith in your love, that with calm expectancy I may make room for your power to possess me, and gracefully accept your healing; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In Pain
Lord Jesus Christ, by your patience in suffering you hallowed earthly pain and gave us the example of obedience to your Father’s will: Be near me in my time of weakness and pain; sustain me by your grace, that my strength and courage may not fail; heal me according to your will; and help me always to believe that what happens to me here is of little account if you hold me in eternal life, my Lord and my God. Amen.

For Sleep
O heavenly Father, you give your children sleep for the refreshing of soul and body: Grant me this gift, I pray; keep me in that perfect peace which you have promised to those whose minds are fixed on you; and give me such a sense of your presence, that in the hours of silence I may enjoy the blessed assurance of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In The Morning
This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.

Going Further

Resources

  • Complete Guide to Caring For Aging Loved Ones
    Offers practical advice to those trying to navigate the many decisions and issues associated with caring for an aging spouse, parent or other loved one. It is published by Focus on the Family, which comes from an evangelical perspective.
  • The 36-Hour Day By Nancy Mace And Peter Rabins
    A guide for family members of those with Alzheimers, dementia, and memory loss.
  • CaringBridge
    A website for sharing information with family and friends about the health of a loved one, and is designed to rally family and friends together to lend you support. CaringBridge
  • The Book of Common Prayer
    The BCP contains all of our services, prayers, and many resources for private devotions. It can be purchased on Amazon or at the Incarnation Bookstore. See especially pages 301–308 for insight into how our tradition thinks about children and parenting. bcponline.org

Church Support

  • Weekday Holy Eucharist & Healing Ministries
    Church of the Incarnation has a Holy Eucharist which includes the laying on of hands and the anointing for the sick on Wednesdays at noon in Memorial Chapel. The Cancer Support Group meets weekly for prayer and Bible study after this mid-week service. Community of Hope is our lay ministry to our homebound parishioners. For more information about how to receive or volunteer for this ministry, call the church office at 214-521-5101.
  • Get Connected.
    Join with other parents and families from our church in your same season of life who are meeting together to study and connect and pray. Go to the Growth Groups web page for more information.
  • Serve the Poor Together.
    Visit our local outreach page to find out how your gifts can change lives.
  • Talk with a priest.
    Any of the priests on staff at Incarnation are happy to meet with you for direction, counsel, or simply just to talk. We are available for home visitations, hospital visitations, anointing of the sick, last rites, and funerals. Email a priest to set up a meeting. Or call the parish office at 214-521-5101.
Categories: Bringing Faith Home