John 21:18 (NIV) “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
Last week, a hidden camera video surfaced of two Certified Nursing Assistants “tormenting and hitting” a 76-year-old Alzheimer's patient at a nursing home in Winter Haven, Florida. Early in October, the patient’s son noticed bruises on his father’s arms and legs, which he reported to the staff of the nursing home. Due to his father’s Alzheimer disease, he can no longer communicate. Therefore, after the nursing home was unable to explain the bruises, the son set up a hidden camera in his father’s room, otherwise known as a “nanny cam”. Within the month of October, the nanny cam recorded three separate incidences of his father receiving malevolent and violent treatment from two Certified Nursing Assistants. Thankfully, the nanny cam footage resulted in the swift arrest of both of them.
This disturbing news story left me with so many questions. Who is caring for our elderly? What can churches do to better protect them? CRC Safe Church Ministry Director, Bonnie Nicholas, also adds, “Physical abuse is not the only kind of abuse to which the elderly are especially vulnerable. Emotional and psychological abuse can hurt just as much. And, financial abuse is far too common. Caretakers, as well as family members, have been known to manipulate and wrongfully take funds that belong to an elderly person who may be unaware of what is happening.”
Therefore, I want us to examine what our churches are doing to address the issue of elder abuse. When hidden cameras reveal such betrayal, it is shocking, hard to look at, and we want to turn away from the images. Yet, who sees about the condition of those who do not have the benefit of a nanny cam? Could some of these abused elderly be members of our churches?
I know our pastors, elders, and associate pastors are diligent in visiting nursing homes and "shut-ins" to regularly check on and pray with the senior members of our churches; and their names often grace the inside of our church bulletin, Sunday after Sunday. Yet, is our church body doing enough to advocate for our elderly, when they no longer have their voice and have become the “least among us”? What is the answer here? What is the solution? What are you seeing happen, proactively, in your own churches?
Isaiah 46:4 (NIV) “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”