Spirituality in Senior Living

Lifestyle
Jim Kok and spirituality in senior living

Posted: April 28, 2021

Written by: Jim Kok, Executive Director of Chaplain Services at Holly Creek

In my over three decades of involvement with long-term care/senior living, and the last 27 years as Chaplain, it has been a joy to participate in a culture change that has brought greater focus on services and care for the whole person. Especially important, I believe, has been the emphasis on the importance of spirituality as a component of successful aging and successful living.

What are the advantages of including spirituality and spiritual services in our communities? It’s more than weekly worship services or regular programming, as important as those may be. It is also about believing that we all have a continuing need to find purpose and deeper meaning in our lives. The Chaplains in our communities are skilled in listening for those needs and providing encouragement and support to residents, their families and care partners as they walk through the many changes, transitions and crises that are part of being a human being.

Because we have a strong faith heritage and a Christian mission, in our communities you will find Christian worship on Sundays and programs such as Bible Studies and Chapels during the week. You’ll also find spiritual programming that encourages people to engage with the world around them, from educational sessions to conversation groups exploring the deeper meaning behind the daily news. You’ll find small groups meeting together for prayer or meditation, and service projects that give opportunities to share and to give back to the greater community by building toy cars, packing shoeboxes for Christmas or knitting blankets, baby clothes and prayer shawls. All of these are ways that we encourage each person’s quest for meaning and purpose.

Over the years, visitors and prospective residents have asked if moving into a Christian Living community means that they need to profess a Christian faith or a certain “brand” of Christianity. And often they wonder if they don’t profess or believe certain things, will there be pressure to change? Once they experience our communities, they quickly realize that we take seriously our mission to reflect Christian love, respect and compassion to everyone, to each individual, regardless of where they come from or what they believe. What they find is a caring and supportive community that understands we all have something to give and contribute to the world around us.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Penelope Wilcock, “We call ourselves human beings, but we could also maybe think of ourselves as human becomings, a ‘will be’ as much as an ‘is.’” Our strong focus on spirituality is fundamental to this process of continued growth, of believing that we are indeed “human becomings,” people of value who can make a difference every day of our lives.

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