Religion beat: Minnesota Council of Churches program ministers to aging population

  • Article by: ROSE FRENCH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 12, 2013 - 7:39 PM

 

The graying of the United States is becoming a call to action for Minnesota churches.

With some 37 million Americans aged 65 and older — and that number expected to double in 25 years — the Minnesota Council of Churches is urging congregations to implement ministries to help seniors facing end-of-life-issues, and help their caregivers as well.

Nearly a year ago, the council started a program called Graceful Journey, aimed at helping churches deal with their ­growing senior populations.

The council held its latest workshop on the subject for church members on Friday in Minneapolis. At least two more workshops are scheduled for next month.

“What we do is work with congregations to help them assess where they are and what their needs are … decide what they could be doing and make an action plan,” said Gail ­Anderson, a director at the council who heads the program.

Representatives from two local congregations are participating in the program workshops. Fifteen are expected to take part in workshops slated to begin in September, Anderson said.

One of the key aspects stressed in the program is that everyone in the congregation should take an active role in helping seniors and caregivers.

“If someone in your congregation is care-taking somebody … at the end of life or severely disabled, maybe the youth group goes and does work on their house or rakes leaves,” ­Anderson said. “It’s just thinking about how you can lend a hand to people at this time.”

Even seemingly minor things — like changing light bulbs — can be overwhelming for seniors, Anderson notes. Assisting with household duties can be a huge help.

“A weekly phone call can make a huge difference to somebody who is care-taking somebody else. They can talk about how they’re doing. People from the church who are not particularly mobile can do that. They can make those phone calls.”

“The possibilities really are all over the place.”

 

Rose French 612-673-4352

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