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Man’s perception, and how to accept aging, has not changed dramatically since the beginning of time or over the last 220 years as man’s life expectancy has increased. Man is not a stagnant being, and as Bathauer notes, “Psychologist tell us that all of life is made up of continuous changes from childhood all the way to old age.” The last twenty years of life, the stage we call old age, brings about almost as many changes as the first twenty years. Changes in the latter part of life are usually more than all the changes during the first twenty years of life because they carry the threat of loss, disability or other degenerative conditions.
Christian counselors are trained in the spiritual and general mental health aspects of aging. Caregivers and family members usually receive their training on the job as a caregiver. As the graying of America continues at an accelerated rate, the Christian counselor, pastor, and caregiver are going to need the tools and resources to counsel and assist in this area. Aging will be an area, which expands into additional areas that will affect everyone in some manner. The Christian counselor, pastor, and caregiver can benefit both professionally and personally by having an understanding of what caregiving is and is not. Also having the knowledge of where to retrieve useable and beneficial information is a blessing to all. It helps to reassure that all involved during this very stressful time period and when major decisions might need to be made to know that there is applicable information at hand. By having this knowledge, it will allow the counselor and caregiver to truly get a better understanding of the aging person. He is now able to help in a spiritual, mental and physical dimension. Again, it is not expected that the counselor, pastor, and caregiver will become a specialist in aging or a gerontologist. The expectation is that the reader will find helpful information as a caregiver and counselor.
1 Ruth M. Bathauer, Parent Care: Fear and Losses of the Elderly (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1990), 32.
2 L. Gelhaus, “Boomers Prefer Aging at Home,” Provider, 2004, 12-15.