@Chaplain Brinker

Forever Young, Elledge-Volker: Response

I appreciated how this article was filled with positive practical steps which can be taken as a response to the physical changes which accompany the aging process. What a helpful remind of what can be done.

The article stated that the second most predictive factor of aging well was having an adaptive coping style. I find this born out among the most well adjusted residents. I have observed that those who are flexible in how they approach each new challenge thrive most often, whether they are facing a physical move, loss of driving privilege, health concerns, loss of faculties, or social changes.

I have also found great value in responding to the visual and auditory needs of an aging population. In my setting I offer three worship services on Sunday and multiple settings for devotional time. Printing the worship bulletin in 14 point font and the hymn numbers in bold 16 point allows some of the visually impaired to continue to participate. I also encourage residents to bring illuminated magnifying glasses which can greatly aide seeing printed material.
One of the unique settings for worship is with those who have memory care needs. After receiving training from a consultant, changed the format for this worship experience. I still use a printed sheet because I have found residents enjoy when I stop in front of them, greet them individually by name, and then ask them if they want a song sheet, (what I call the worship material in memory care). I find this simple exchange treats them as persons with the power to choose and determine an aspect of their life, even if it is small and momentary. Previously, I discovered how residents with cognitive challenges and second to third stage dementias were getting lost in a typically folded and formatted worship bulletin. The format I use now is a vertical, portrait style with one column, instead of a landscape layout with multiple columns. This new format used 16 point font, the words for one verse of a familiar song is in a box with a bright blue boarder. I include successive bold numbers down the left side of the song sheet to help reference where we are in the flow of the service. Additionally, I include a 3”x”4” picture on each side of the song sheet. The first one introduces the theme of the sermon or an aspect of the Christian year. The picture on the back ties into the one verse of a Psalm which we share together. We discuss the first picture as we being the service. Then the Psalm- picture anchors everyone in a second discussion time when we turn the page over.

Some of the residents they participate by receiving the song sheet, listening, looking at the picture, and being present. Others read, sing, and share in the prayer response: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.” With this new format I observe residents participating more, tracking better, offering more appropriate responses to each part of the simple service.

We have memory challenged residents in all levels of care. Because of the effectiveness of this format I now use it the nursing care setting as well.
To facilitate better hearing in my Bible study session, I have purchased a small portable amplifying system. One resident who can not hear much in normal conversations, sits next to the portable speaker. Now she can hear everything that is said.

David Brinker