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Providing Appropriate Pastoral Care to Seniors

woman sitting in courtyard smilingMy mother was raised a Catholic and still observes those traditions and values. She is beginning to have difficulty recalling people and moments in her life. This is making her easily frustrated and depressed, with periods of anger when she realizes her lapses during conversations with the family. What can I do, that is supported by her religious beliefs, to help her with this change?

-April in Grand Rapids

Hello April,

Thank you for writing. It is a good thing that you are aware of the changes in your mother’s behavior. These changes can also often be disruptive during communications and leave others at a loss of how to respond appropriately. Many seniors begin to experience the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s as they age; if this new behavior has not been diagnosed as of yet, an appointment should be made for your mother to see a physician. Memory loss and the diminishing ability to perform daily tasks often leads to bouts of despair and angry outbursts. Beyond medical diagnosis, pastoral care can serve your mother and all involved.

Many individuals with spiritual and religious beliefs find comfort in pastoral care. It can afford your mother some peace and help her to recall important chapters of her faith journey. Resthaven pastoral care extends to all friends and family of the senior. This inclusive approach acknowledges their need for support as they watch their vibrant loved one slowly lose the ability to walk, perform self-care routines, and recognize them and others.

This is a distressing period for all, and Resthaven can assist in understanding and coming to terms with the journey ahead. It makes the time shared together even more precious. Pastoral care also enables families to make the most of those moments that they have together.

Pastoral care can entail many different activities. Activities that fall under this umbrella provide for the religious and spiritual needs of individuals and families along their journey. Pastoral counseling, emotional support, faith-specific guidance, prayer groups and various types of support groups assist our families.

Pastoral care is available for those who reside independently or in assisted care. Regular visits are available to seniors that offer caring interactions and assistance. Strong ties often develop that benefit the entire family.

Families appreciate the dedication of the staff to the holistic well-being of their ailing parents. They also learn how to incorporate techniques that reduce the stress of changes to their relationship. They are happy to have finally reached out for assistance.

A family member recently said, “Resthaven gives wonderful care to the body, stimulation to the mind, and also nurtures the spirit.” You can contact a compassionate Resthaven coordinator at (616) 796-3800 to learn more about the benefits of pastoral care for your family.

-Reverend Leigh Van Kempen, Chaplain at Resthaven

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