Right now, at this moment, two million US adults are living in nursing homes. Another 900,000 reside in smaller adult care homes, and untold thousands live in Assisted Living communities or are being cared for by family. And they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Every day, another 10,000 people in the US turn 65.
The numbers are impressive, but when you try to calculate the cost of long-term care for all those folks, it becomes staggering. The US Government spends over 75 billion dollars a year on long term health care; paying for almost 60% of all expenses. Data shows that health care costs are generally higher at the end of life; a disproportionately large percentage of all Medicare expenditures are incurred during the year prior to death.
As the world seeks cost effective alternatives to reduce end-of-life care expenses, the church must realize that euthanasia is on their list. And yet, more than 90% of US churches have no recognized (budgeted) outreach ministry to residents of nursing homes and long-term-care facilities.
But Christ’s Church Cares!
Our C.A.R.E. Ministry has received funding from the elders as a recognized ministry of the church, providing Christ-centered, Scripture-based worship services and weekly Bible Studies, as well as one-on-one visits.
It’s easy to see the necessity of the corporate gatherings to residents who may have attended church weekly throughout their lives. But why are the one-on-one visits so vitally important?
Although we tend to see a large number of long-term residents in our services, the stunning fact is that, of those two million people living in a nursing home, two-thirds will die this year.
And of the ones who are left,
33% are suffering from some form of depression.
This is not hard to understand. Residents are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, businessmen, teachers, realtors, pastors. People who once ran families, businesses, churches, and military units. They’ve lost health, mobility, and independence, and must rely on staff to meet their most basic needs. But even more than that, they feel they’ve been abandoned.
80% have fewer than one visitor per week
35% will not see a loved one after their second week.
When your family and friends and everyone you’ve loved and served all your life fades away, it is very easy to conclude that God has abandoned you as well.
Do you see how important this ministry is?
Can you imagine what a powerful encouragement it is that someone knows their name? That someone touches them when it’s not their job to do it? This is the power of the one-on-one visits, that say “I came to see you because you’re important to God, and important to me!”
Psalm 34 says “Magnify the Lord with me.” Magnifying something makes it easier to see; that is what we do with every smile, every touch, every word of Scripture. We make God easier for them to see. Because we, who are strangers, love them, suddenly it’s not so hard to believe that God might still love them too. So come, and “Magnify the Lord with me!”