Love Your Older Neighbor

September 2017 - Feature Article
by Kim Jackson

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September 2017 - Feature Article

When Janna Syester began working in home health, she assumed patients would refuse therapy visits on holidays.

She was wrong.

Janna was surprised at how many of her older patients would say, “Oh yes, please come on Christmas day. I’ll be happy to have the company.”

She’s even had patients request therapy on holidays, saying “If you don’t come, I won’t see anyone.”

Unfortunately, Janna’s experience is not unique.

In fact, a term that once was foreign to our thinking is becoming widespread: elder orphan. An elder orphan is someone who is aging alone with no family available to address their needs. Experts report that one in five Americans older than 65 are — or are at risk of becoming — elder orphans. Consequently there are abundant opportunities for believers to live out the commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mat.22:39).

As Christians we must intentionally demonstrate God’s love to elder orphans. But how do we discover opportunities to put legs on our faith by serving our graying society?

The first step is simply to become aware of this vulnerable population. A recent news story told of a 90-year-old woman, Wanda, who wrote a note to her neighbor which said, “Would you consider to become my friend? I live alone. All my friends have passed away. I’m so lonesome and scared. Please, I pray for someone.”

Why did Christ die for you?

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