Being involved in eldercare often causes us to question ourselves- “Are we having any impact on the life and well-being of the elders that we serve?” So many times we can see little indication that we have made a difference- feedback is minimal. Some of our elders are still very lively and engaging and the impact is obvious and immediate. But for many others sometimes the only response is a flat affect, especially from those who are suffering from some form of dementia. This can apply to elders who are in either long-term care or independent living. So we are left to wonder- “Are we making a difference?”
I think what we have to do is look for the little things. On our campus we have a beautiful chapel where we have a non-denominational service on Sunday mornings. Both long-term care and independent living residents attend the service. One particular couple from independent living attends every week. They were active in our campus auxiliary and their local church for many years. But those days are now behind them. She is always pleasant in saying how she enjoyed the service. He has early onset dementia and does not say much and often sleeps during my sermon (not so unusual). So we are left to wonder.
But the indicator is there- we have to look for it- it is during the music portion of the service. He can be seen singing along with many of the hymns, especially during the chorus. He does not belt it out like he used to, but now quietly engages in the worship service. There is the connection- there is the impact- there is the difference. The worship of God has always been an important part of his life and remains so today. That need is met on Sunday mornings as he quietly lifts his voice in praise to God.
Do we make a difference? Yes we do; we all do from our different perspectives of service and ministry to our elders. It may not always be obvious, but if we look for it in the little things I think we will see that we really do make a difference.