During times of transition, spiritual support can play an important role in comforting people.
That’s true at any stage of life.
At Eventide Senior Living Communities, chaplains lead the way for providing spiritual care to residents. Spiritual care includes worship services, Bible studies, and so much more.
Familiar rituals and traditions like worship and holiday celebrations provide opportunities for fellowship and connection. These help to build community. While Eventide is proud of its Lutheran heritage, worship and Bible studies are inclusive of people from all faith traditions.
But spiritual care is much larger than worship. Eventide seeks to help each resident find wellness in body, mind and spirit. Its chaplaincy services are key to making sure the latter is addressed.
Eventide’s two full-time chaplains accompany residents as they seek meaning in life while navigating through this stage of life’s journey. The spiritual needs of those who move into a senior living community are vast. Some are ready for the change and look forward to joining a safe community. Others struggle with chronic diseases or loss of independence.
“It can be hard for someone to say, I need a little help, and that’s often what happens when someone joins our community” says Chaplain Steve Streed. “We’re here to help them work through fear, loss and anxiety so they can thrive.”
Today’s American culture places more value and emphasis on youth than on the aging, Streed says. But the questions one faces in one’s 70s, 80s or 90s are the same as those faced by someone in their teens or mid-40:
Who am I now? Who do I belong to? What’s my purpose? What is my worth?
Reflecting on these questions gives residents an opportunity to work through stages of grief and loss. Perhaps a loved one has died or maybe someone has broken relationships or disappointments to address.
Streed often starts conversations simply: Do you have regrets? Would you change anything? What advice do you have to share?
Residents with lifetimes of experiences have meaningful responses.
One woman told Streed this advice: 1. Accept aging; 2. Do one thing today; leave one thing for tomorrow; and 3. Get your dander up once in a while.
“The residents at Eventide have experienced the bitter and the sweet, the mountaintops and the valleys,” Streed says. “They have so much to teach.”
Streed sometimes finds residents who are wrestling with an issue that wasn’t addressed earlier in their life. He compares it to Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32.
“God wrestles us to the ground,” Streed says. “We have to face things sooner or later.”
Spiritual care can offer tools for doing that.
Eventide’s spiritual support extends to family members and staff, as well. Families may struggle with a decision to move a loved one into assisted living or long-term care. Chaplaincy services can help them come to peace with their decisions.
Support staff, too, have asked for assistance when a beloved resident passes away – or even for happier occasions, such as weddings and baptisms.
“Our ministry is about connection,” Streed says. “It’s an honor to be part of the journey.”