Relief Society Lesson #16: The Elderly in the Church

Traducción española/Click for Spanish Translation

In all stages of our lifes there are joys and difficulties – and the older years are no different.

I’ve listed some of the joys here for class discussion. Some are in the lesson manual and some are my own.

  • Continued association with a spouse or other close family member.
  • Children: great nieces and nephews, grandchildren, friends and ward members.
  • Peace: there can be times of rest and peace in later years. A great blessing.
  • Time: often there is more time in later years – to be used for interesting travel, new hobbies, renewed friendships, etc.

Here I’ve listed difficulties in the same way.

  • Unresolved past problems: relational, spiritual, or temporal – these problems can weigh on the mind and heart.
  • Financial difficulties. Financial problems can come in many forms and are not always the result of poor planning. These can be difficult to resolve in later years.
  • Health Concerns – Illness and Pain. As we age, our bodies break down and the elderly can be plagued with many illnesses and also chronic pain. Poor vision and hearing loss can also create frustration.
  • Losing loved ones – including spouses. Many close friends and family members pass away as we age. This can be emotionally painful and lonely.

We can all accomplish great things – throughout our lives – and this can (and should) continue into the older years. Many of our general church leaders (male and female) and elderly – and continue to serve with much dedication. We can learn from their example and their wisdom.

Anna, the Prophetess, was an old women working in the temple when she was called to be a witness of Christ and saw him as a baby with Mary.

 

The lesson gives 8 ideas for “making the most of your senior years”, which I will give my thoughts on. And I will add “making the most of your friendship with seniors” as I list ideas on how to involve seniors in your life.

  1. The Temple
    Our senior members can serve the Lord by using volunteer time (or missions) to work in the temple. Attending the temple often can also bring peace and rest.Offer rides to senior members who may want to attend the temple and enjoy their company and temple experiences during the ride. Also – ask a senior member to your home to talk about the things they learn in the temple. This can benefit both you and your children.
  1. Family History
    Now is the time to write YOUR life story and to collect stories from other family members. Write and combine histories of your whole family. Collect and write family histories. Find names of your ancestors. Submit to the temple.Record the voices of aging family member or senior friends who you admire. As for help when looking for family names. Learn from the life experiences of others.
  1. Missionary Service
    Use the time in your senior years to go on missions, having new experiences, and serve the Lord.Write to senior missionaries. Learn from senior missionaries. Support senior missionaries.
  1. Accept and fulfill Church callings.
    Stay excited about the church and be happy to serve where needed. This will keep life full and busy – and will bless many lives.The church (and its wards) need the experience and influence of its senior members, who bring so much wisdom to new callings. Help them and learn from them.
  1. Christlike Service
    “Some who are alone keep busy by quilting blankets for each new grandchild to be married or each new baby born into the family. Others write letters on birthdays or attend school and athletic events of grandchildren when they can.
    We see numerous widows/widowers who volunteer at the hospitals, shelters, community programs.
    The key to overcoming aloneness and a feeling of uselessness for one who is physically able is to step outside yourself by helping others who are truly needy.”

Invite senior members in to your family. Spent time with them. They can be a positive influence on your children – and on your family ties.

  1. Health
    Stay physically fit, healthy, and active. Be grateful for your body, even as it ages. Do what you can to keep strong and work toward longer, better health.Exercise with the seniors in your life. Encourage them to stay strong.

 

SS Lección 16
La tercera edad en la Iglesia

En todas las etapas de nuestras vidas hay alegrías y dificultades –y los años mayores no son diferentes.

He escuchado algunas de las alegrías en discusiones de esta clase. Algunas están en el manual y otras son propias.
• Mantener una relación con el cónyuge u otros miembros cercanos de la familia.
• Niños: Magníficos sobrinos y sobrinas, nietos, amigos y miembros del barrio.
• Paz: Puede haber momentos de descanso y paz en los últimos años. Una gran bendición.
• Tiempo: Regularmente hay más tiempo en los últimos años –para ser usado en viajes interesantes, nuevos pasatiempos, renovar amistades, etc.

Aquí también he escuchado algunas dificultades.
• Problemas sin resolver del pasado: Espirituales, temporales o con relaciones –estos problemas pueden pesar en la mente y en el corazón.
• Dificultades financieras: Los problemas financieros pueden llegar de muchas formas y no son siempre el resultado de una mala planeación. Éstos pueden ser difíciles de resolver en los últimos años.
• Problemas de salud- Enfermedades y dolor: Mientras crecemos, nuestros cuerpos se desgastan y las personas de la tercera edad pueden sufrir muchas enfermedades y también dolor crónico. La pérdida de la visión y del oído también puede crear frustración.
• Perder a los seres queridos –incluso el cónyuge. Muchos amigos cercanos y miembros de la familia fallecen mientras envejecemos. Esto puede acarrear dolor y soledad emocional.

Todos podemos lograr increíbles cosas –a lo largo de nuestras vidas- y esto puede (y debe) continuar en los años mayores. Muchos de nuestros líderes generales de la Iglesia (hombres y mujeres) son de la tercera edad –y continúan sirviendo con mucha dedicación. Podemos aprender de su ejemplo y sabiduría.

Ana, la Profetisa, fue una anciana que trabajaba en el templo cuando fue llamada a ser testigo de Jesucristo y verlo de bebé con María.

La lección da 8 ideas para “aprovechar al máximo los años de la tercera edad”, a las cuales yo les compartiré mis sugerencias. Además añadiré “aprovechar al máximo tu amistad con las personas mayores” en la cual daré ideas para involucrar a las personas mayores en tu vida.

1. El Templo
Nuestros miembros mayores pueden servir al Señor con trabajo voluntario (o misiones) en el templo. Acudir al templo regularmente también trae paz y descanso.

Ofrézcanse a llevar a miembros mayores quienes podrían querer ir al templo y disfrutar de su compañía y sus experiencias en éste durante el viaje. También –pide a un adulto mayor ir a tu casa y hablar acerca de las cosas que aprenden en el templo. Esto puede traer beneficios para ti y para tus hijos.

2. Historia familiar
Ahora es tiempo para escribir TU historia de vida y coleccionar historias de otros miembros de la familia. Escribe y combina la historia de toda tu familia. Colecciona y escribe historias de tu familia. Encuentra los nombres de tus ancestros. Envíalos al templo.

Graba las voces de miembros mayores de tu familia o de amigos mayores que admires. Pide ayuda cuando busques los nombres de familiares. Aprende de las experiencias de vida de otros.

3. Servicio misional
Usa el tiempo de tus años mayores para ir a misiones, tener nuevas experiencias y servir al Señor.

Escribe a misioneros mayores. Aprende de las misiones de adultos mayores. Apoya a misioneros mayores.

4. Acepta y entrégate a los llamamientos de la Iglesia.
Mantente emocionado sobre la Iglesia y alégrate de servir donde se te necesite. Esto mantendrá tu vida llena y ocupada –y te bendecirá de muchas maneras.

La Iglesia (y sus barrios) necesitan la experiencia e influencia de sus miembros mayores, quienes traen mucha sabiduría a sus nuevos llamamientos. Ayúdalos y aprende de ellos.

5. Den servicio cristiano
“Hay personas que están solas y se mantienen ocupadas haciendo acolchados para cada nieto que se casa o para cada niño que nace en la familia. Otras escriben cartas para los cumpleaños o, cuando pueden, van a ver a los nietos participar en actividades escolares o competiciones deportivas. Algunas preparan álbumes de fotografías de cada nieto para regalárselos en los cumpleaños…

Hemos visto a muchas hermanas viudas que trabajan de voluntarias en hospitales o que sirven de otras maneras dentro de la comunidad. Muchos experimentan por estos medios un sentimiento de satisfacción.

La clave para superar la soledad y el sentimiento de inutilidad para el que es físicamente apto, es dejar de pensar en sí mismo y ayudar a otros que realmente lo necesitan.”

Invita a miembros mayores a compartir con tu familia. Pasa tiempo con ellos, pueden ser una influencia positiva en tus hijos – y en tus lazos familiares.

6. Salud
Mantente físicamente en forma, saludable y activo. Sé agradecido con tu cuerpo, incluso en esta edad. Haz lo que puedas para mantenerte fuerte y trabajar por más tiempo con mejor salud.

Ejercítate con los adultos mayores de tu vida. Aliéntalos a mantenerse fuertes.

Suzette

Suzette lives in the Washington DC area and works as a Professional Organizer. She enjoys blogging and serving on the Exponent II Board. Her Mormon roots run deep and she loves her big Mormon family which includes 20 nieces and nephews, 6 sisters, 5 brother in laws, 2 parents - and dozens of cousins. Her favorite things about church are the great Alexandria wards, temple worship, and all things Visiting Teaching.

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9 Responses

  1. Patty says:

    I am distressed by the idea that I am now in a separate category( 65 and retired) and require a lesson teaching others about my “needs” and how to relate to me. In many ways I am still the person I was when I was thirty. In my mind that ‘s about the age I feel. Physically? Not so much, but my interests, activities, and enthusiasms are still very much the same. I’d like to have people see me as a person (and sister) rather than a senior citizen (ick).

    • CatherineWO says:

      I agree, Patty. As an “older” adult, I still have a lot of passion, along with a lot of experience. While I would like accommodation for my physical needs, I don’t want to be treated as lacking.

    • Rachel says:

      Patty, thank you for sharing your perspective. I heard a (quite good) lesson on this today, and didn’t consider that the topic itself could be disrespectful or othering, though your example of “interests, activities, and enthusiasms” still being “very much the same” is perfect, and closely matches all of the “older” people I know (65 still seems so young to me!). My new hope (which is really my old hope), is that we can just treat people like people, with respect, kindness, and charity. Thank you for your good reminders.

  2. CatherineWO says:

    This sounds like a good lesson. I went onto LDS.org and read the whole thing, and it was good to see that there is a suggestion to ward members to be of service to older people in the ward and include them in activities. One thing that I think is really important is for ward leaders and members to do what they can to accommodate for disabilities, which are common as people become older. For example, many older people have difficulty with night vision, so they don’t drive at night, or maybe they don’t drive at all. Offering (sincerely) to take them to church or to activities, especially in the evening, is really helpful. There are many other things as well, such as consideration for dietary restrictions, accommodation for hearing loss, arthritic conditions, chemical sensitivities, and other immune disorders. It’s important to ask the person what would be helpful. Don’t assume.

  3. Rachel says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful lesson guide, Suzette!

  4. Patty says:

    Suzette, I thought your lesson guide was fine! I was just discouraged by the concept behind the whole lesson, that the elderly (okay, more irritating term than senior!) are somehow in a whole different category than the rest of the members.

  5. Suzette says:

    Patty – I know the feeling. I’m single and I feel like everyone else. I wish there were not special accommodation needed to divide people up. But, I guess we make the best of the lesson material we have.
    I’ll love you just like a regular sister. Suzette

    • Patty says:

      True! Thanks! I appreciate having this forum where I can respond frankly and hopefully tactfully to church concerns.

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