From fishing trips with granddad, to baking cookies with grandma—the family visits and quality time we get together are priceless. In many cultures it is expected for the parents to eventually live with their adult children when getting around becomes difficult. But nowadays, it is much more common to see the elderly in assisted living facilities and nursing homes rather than in the homes of their children or grandchildren. Why has this become such a trend?
Let’s take moment to consider that maybe the answer resides within the spirit. While the Bible may not have a “how to” section when it comes to senior care, there are many anecdotes and clues along the way. Here are some key stories and scriptures to consider.
Naomi and Ruth
Ruth follows the story of a widow who refuses to abandon the mother of her late husband. Ruth cares for Naomi and follows her to Bethlehem. Even when Naomi protests and suggests that Ruth go back to her own people, Naomi chooses love and friendship of her mother-in-law over the easy way out. Ruth is ultimately rewarded by marrying Boaz and continuing the lineage that leads to King David, and ultimately Jesus Christ.
The 71st Psalm is known as “Prayer of an Old Man for Rescue”. While the entire poem is a call out to God, this verse speaks volumes about what many elderly citizens must feel:
“Do not cast me off nor send me away in the time of old age;
Do not abandon me when my strength fails and I am weak.” –Psalm 71: 9
The strong desire to have company and feel the presence of friendship is felt among kings and commoners alike.
Paul’s Letter to Timothy
Paul wrote to Timothy to encourage him in his ministry. In Chapter 5 we see a lengthy description on how to care for widows and elders. This chapter discusses how to care for a woman over 60 who has done good deeds in her life. Failure to provide for those in need brings about some harsh words: “If anyone fails to provide for his own, and especially for those of his own family, he has denied the faith [by disregarding its precepts] and is worse than an unbeliever [who fulfills his obligation in these matters].”—1 Timothy 5-8
General Instruction on How to Care for Humankind
“The King will answer and say to them, ‘I assure you and most solemnly say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it for Me.’”—Matthew 25: 40
Jesus explains here that in all we do to show compassion and mercy to another person, we are doing that very act to Christ himself. Likewise, when we refuse charity, compassion, and other basic needs it is as if we deny Jesus himself these things. Clearly, the value of love and care from one human to another is far greater that a career, money, or status. The next time you look into the eyes of a senior, remember this: this person you see is a beloved child of God!