The show today is a flashback to one of the top viewed sessions in our 2021 Church Mental health summit with Rev. Dr. Hilda R. Davis
WHO IS REV.DR. DAVIS?
Rev. Dr. Davis is a licensed professional counselor and believes that wellness is not an option for her clients but what God has intended for them.
Through spiritual resources, supportive counseling, and interactive training Dr. Davis offers a sacred space where the integration of faith and wellness goals leads to flourishing.
Her work in local congregations led to the publication of her book for African American women, Live Healthy & Be Well: Create an Action Plan, which offers Bible stories, meditation, and activities that lead to a wellness action plan.
She has also written a curriculum, Flourishing in Transition, that offers a four-week study and activities that guide living optimally despite life changes and this is what she shared at the 2021 Summit.
WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER ASSUME WHAT PEOPLE ARE FEELING/NEEDING
One of the first lessons you learn as a supporter is never to assume what people are feeling or needing.
Early in my career as a social worker, I organized a class that would help people learn to cook on a budget with cheap easily accessible pantry foods that didn’t spoil.
The intention was to strengthen the skills of those who struggle with food insecurity. My heart was in the right place, but looking back it was a cringe-worthy moment.
Here I was, a 20-something-year-old who just survived university by eating side kits and cereal and working a job that would ensure I had access to food without a barrier. And I was talking to those in their 40-50’s who have spent a lifetime learning how to cook, budget, and survive despite significant barriers and food insecurity.
Thankfully it took me only one class to see my arrogance and my second class started off with me asking the participants what would be helpful for them. They were very gracious in their answers.
What started off as a class of me teaching them became a recipe exchange and the students became my teacher in couponing and the rhythms of sales at the different grocery store chains.
If you don’t learn this lesson before you start your support work, then you will be like me and you learn quickly that it is arrogant of you to assume what people need and that you have all the answers.
But how often do we do this?
As outsiders, we assume what people must be feeling and what they need. We project what we would feel in that situation based on our current worldview—forgetting that other people see and experience the world totally different than us.
So no matter what project, program, or ministry you are doing it is important to include those who would be users to inform the planning and development process.
Dr. Davis describes this as the first step in building a ministry for older adults, those who flourish in transition.
From my limited vantage point of working while raising a family, I could think those who are retired might want to slow down, do crafts, Bible Studies, and get together over coffee and snacks, and while those are not bad, perhaps people might want to travel, learn new skills and enrich their relationships.
So as you consider how to minister and care for the older adults in your church I would first start by asking them… well, no I would first finish listening to the Rev. Dr. Davis on this podcast and then follow her recommendations including asking for input in how to care and support older adults in your church.
HOW TO ENGAGE OLDER ADULTS BEYOND BINGO
Boomers and older adults are experiencing new things from their church, if so they want to expect. They want to experience life in new ways despite being in transition.
Older adults remain fully active and want something new in their lives and this is where churches can come in to accommodate them.
How the church can support:
- Ask the older adults in case you would want to create a ministry in their honor. Listen to their name suggestions for the ministry and the activities they would love to be carried out.
- Ask about everything, they may not want what is being provided at the moment however they can lend their input in different areas
- Pitch to a grown adult. They can make decisions for themselves and are expecting to flourish
- Build your communications around flourishing not fear. Balance your communications around how you can help older adults and expand your idea of who older adults are.
- Encourage multi-generational activities. Create opportunities that allow the young and old to interact
- Educate yourself by reading blogs for older adults. Learn how they spend their time and what they love
- Provide a forum for discussions. These forums can be about sex and intimacy and much more
- Teach them how to become entrepreneurs and utilize marketing tools. This can be how to use social media so they can build new relationships with people
- Offer classes that promote mental, emotional and physical wellness. Older adults experience loss as well and are in need of new opportunities to flourish and with mental and emotional wellness they can achieve that.
- Arrange travel for older adults. In some cases, older adults may not want to travel with children and their needs should be accommodated.
At the core of it all is asking and listening because the ways in which the church can support older adults are way beyond bingo.
CONNECT WITH HILDA.R.DAVIS
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