My review of the “Forever Young” article
I know that Volker is addressing pastoral/spiritual care givers in this article as talks upfront about “our understanding of aging needs to be reconsidered, reconstructed and re-viewed” and she is talking about our work in health care settings. I want to expand the argument for just a moment to say that in the broader society the needs to be some work on re considering, reconstructing, and re-viewing our understanding of aging. This, too, is an area where we can be advoacates, educators, and leaders in helping with this task even beyond our work in our respective healthcare settings.
Back to the article, Volker presents the argument of “only labor and sorrow” versus “new adventures of grace.” At the point she presented this discussion I wrote to the side : “What about meeting people where they are?” because I wondered if she was going to present this as being either one or the other or would it be more of a process of moving from one to the other. She seems to have chosen the later in that later she talks about moving from “only labor…” to “new adventures in grace.” I like the phrase “new adventures in grace” and pretty well like how she presented it using the 7 factors that help predict healthy aging. However, it seems to me that people being as complex and we are that this process of moving from one to other is not necessarily going to be a smooth, easy process. That is where it becomes important that we meet people where they are in the process.
I don’t think that she is presenting an either/or argument. I have to say that at one point her argument struck me as sounding a bit like a marketing plan for a CCRC – “Shady Grove Retirement Community where you can find new adventures in grace.” Actually, as she continued to present her material it occurred to me that her 7 factors for health aging would be a pretty good framework to build a wellness concept around. When I first read those 7 items it occurred to me that none of them were specifically spiritually oriented and all seem indicate personal lifestyle choices. I feel that because she did not present a specific spiritual component and chose, instead, to present the spiritual component of each of the 7 factors that she is getting at the reality of our work. In LTC chaplaincy we have the opportunity to become somewhat integrated into peoples lives and walk with them or help guide them in the process of integrating the spiritual component into living the 7 factors. I do like how she presented for each factor various ideas and insights into how chaplains can bring the spiritual dimension into their lives. We have the opportunity to be some of the “good people” who come into the lives of our residents as she states in her closing sentence.