The much wiser older generation cannot begin to comprehend how you, we, us spend hours and hours on social networking sites and of course, that window you tend to minimize when someone approaches – the adult forum. Admit it, the discussion on adult forums are quite interesting because they discuss the sensitive issues usually revolving on the topic of sex and relationships, which we rarely discuss openly with new acquaintances because society dictates it. Well, you are one lucky person if you always have the freedom to discuss such things openly with a person you just met some minutes ago. But this is not always the case. The adage “no two situations are the same” applies. Most of the time, it will be awkward to discuss such topics with people we just met.Human beings are the highest form of animals – this is one fact that is attributed to many factors and among that factors is our ability to socialize and interact. Through the socialization process, we are able to develop our critical thinking, update our knowledge, validate some issues that we have questions about, meet people with the same cultural background, form new ideas and so much more. We cannot consider to be healthy if we do not socialize. But why maintain animosity? Are we afraid to show who we really are? Why do most adults use pen names or plain numbers?Well, for one thing, safety is a concern. We all know the perils of some few unguarded moments of vulnerability. Like animals, predators in adult forums disguise themselves as sheep. However, another point of view is, using an anonymous or pen name gives us the freedom to say what we want without being judged. Fear of rejection is somehow eliminated for the brain can rationalize that even if one person in that adult forum criticize what you have said, you can always be comforted that no one knows who you really are behind the name that you used.Furthermore, it also fosters creativity. How? When you enter such adult forums, what you usually do is scan the names already inside the forum. Automatically, you will end up buzzing on a name that sounds interesting, thought-provoking or any name that sends an underlying meaning for you.In the end, the names we used usually represents the type of personality that we have or should I say, the type of person that you keep hidden from your associates. In psychology, our personality is defined by the four Johari’s window – the public self, private, semi-public and the unknown self. The private self is usually what we exhibit when we enter adult forums under anonymous names.Lastly, adult forums provides a means of meeting people, discussing issues that are socially present but not accepted to be discussed openly. Trust is something that we don’t give in consideration to safety, but nevertheless, it is a forum where you can be yourself without the fear of being judged with your modern views and opinions on sensitive issues.
IntroductionFrom the earliest days of human history all indications are that life expectancies were relatively short. The few who reached “old age,” bearing the subsequent restrictions associated with it, were viewed a disadvantage in families that frequently valued utility over mortality. However, with the advent of efficient agricultural methods and the consequent stability of food supplies, humankind learned to survive with longer and healthier lives, alleviating some of society’s systemic prejudices toward chronologically advanced individuals.According to historical records, sometime around 4000 BC, a significant segment of the population began to attain “old age” in certain regions of the world such as Mesopotamia. Agriculture not only provided steady food supplies extending chronological longevity, but also helped to encourage a view of elder adults as economically beneficial. Increasingly counted upon to perform various family functions such as teaching the young and overseeing unencumbering tasks, they found themselves “needed.” While the general zeitgeist and societal view towards elder adults waxed and waned during civilization’s early development, the historical mention of this segment of the population was relatively sparse. In the words of social historian, David Hackett Fischer,
Aging is a topic that has almost been totally ignored by historians. The condition of neglect will not continue. Old age is likely to become a subject of much interest to the ‘new’ social historians-partly because they themselves are beginning to grow old, but mostly because it lies at the intersection of many major questions in the field, about the family, about the life-cycle, stratification, welfare, and many other things.A significant development in the study of aging came from Persia in the eleventh century A. D. when a physician named Avicenna wrote a book entitled, The Canon of Medicine, in 1025. As a portent into modern academic studies of gerontology and geriatrics, Avicenna included material that prescribed certain health habits to encourage elder persons to preserve their diminishing strength.At about this time in medieval Europe, inimical sentiments towards the elderly prevailed although perspicuous mention is sparse. Donald O. Cowgill of the American Academy of Political and Social Science attributes the reduction in respect and veneration for elder members in Western societies due to industrial and economic factors. With the arrival of the Renaissance, old age returned to favor, as celebrated individuals like Michelangelo and Andrea Doria came to epitomize the ideals of living long, active, and prolific lives.Between the sixteenth century and the third quarter of the twentieth century, Western ideas about aging underwent a fundamental transformation, spurred by the development of modern society. Ancient and medieval understandings of aging as a mysterious part of the eternal order of things gradually gave way to the secular, scientific, and individualistic tendencies of modernity. By the mid-twentieth century, older people were moved to society’s margins and defined primarily as patients or pensioners.It would come much later, during the era of the Industrial Revolution, that Westerners would embrace a more socialized, collective system of care for the elder aged. Though often little more than almshouses, so-called “care homes” began to appear in the 1800s scattered throughout Europe. By the 1930s the Social Security Act in the United States began to provide compensated care for many older Americans. Consequently, over the past 170 years, in countries with the highest life expectancies, the average life span of adults has increased at a rate of 2.5 years per decade, or about six hours per day. Thus, while the communal value of elder life has fluctuated over the years, its chronological extension has steadily grown.The underlying allergy towards aging remains prevalent in most western societies where confronting the issues related to it are often ignored until necessity requires our attention. This project and its ensuing paper looks at the necessity of caring for the fellowship and spiritual needs of elder adults beginning at the local level of church ministry.An Aging PopulationWhile most American churches continue to focus on youth programs and reaching out to younger generations, this customary emphasis has come at the cost of neglecting the fastest-growing segment of contemporary society. Certainly we need youth ministries and children’s programs as much, if not more than ever, but as statistics increasingly indicate, we just as urgently need an imperious plan for the intentional integration of older adults, especially confined adults, into the regular life of churches.As we age, increasing disability and loss of mobility often lead to a decline in social networks and support. The result is greater isolation and decline in mental health and quality of life. Interventions such as socialization, day care centers and senior centers are in part constructed to alleviate and delay such isolation through group activities and maintaining a social engagement with friends, family, and social volunteerism. But there comes a time, after a protracted illness, a stroke or some other life event–often an acute health problem–when many elderly people find themselves prohibited from continuing to participate in their social groups.With the onset of the third millennium since Christ, care for the elderly has become an ever-more pressing societal demand. Christian communities have the unique opportunity to lead out in addressing the needs of elder adults, beginning with those listed on their church rolls. Jesus, the literal analogia fidei, set the scriptural standard in Matt. 5:16 when he told his disciples to “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Augustine commented on this verse saying, “That light shines as the result of bodily service, so that it is presented to believers through their embodied ministry.” Christ’s light shining through an embodied, “incarnational” ministry is an emphasis worthy of any church’s consideration. What follows is one church’s odyssey into the ambitious endeavor to meet the demands of an aging population by intentionally serving its senior adult members, specifically its homebound and local nursing home residents, as incarnational ambassadors of Christ.An Age Wave”Where there is no prophetic vision,” says Prov. 29:8, “the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” Do we really know what we are doing when it comes to ministering to the elderly among us? Based on available U.S. census data, the fastest-growing segment of our nation’s contemporary population is people eighty-five years of age and older. Due to such debilitating factors as ambulatory constraints, diminished eye sight, and various other physical impairments, these citizens find themselves unable to get away from home without a great deal of highly specialized (and often expensive) assistance. Among adults, aged seventy-five years and older, about 10% require the help of another person to accomplish activities for daily living (ADLs), such as dressing and eating. Another 19% require assistance with “instrumental” activities for daily living (IADLs), such as shopping and money management. In a 1996 Geriatric Society study of 878 non-institutionalized persons, 10.3% were classified as homebound aged sixty-eight years and older. The study went on to conclude that being homebound statistically favors women, widowhood, depression, strokes, and inadequate social support.According to a 2005 report, “Caregiving families (families in which at least one member has a disability) have median incomes that are more than 50% below that of non-caregiving families and in every state the poverty rate is higher among families with members with a disability than among families without.” Such findings are not surprising as much as they are disturbing. The economic disparity associated with the numbers of homebound and nursing home residents continues to stretch American families in difficult directions. The resolution for this imbalance has less to do with government action than with employing families to work together with churches to share the responsibilities of elder care.The need for trained volunteers to involve seniors in Christian service statistically speaks for itself. Intentionally utilizing active listening skills and practical ministry techniques for moral and spiritual edification, these invaluable seniors can be included as active, albeit off-site, members of local congregations. By virtue of their inclusion, the local church’s overall awareness of senior needs will not only increase, but will lead to a better working relationship in the community.The following facts are important for churches and ministers to consider in determining their ministry stratagem. The combination of contemporary lower birth and death rates means that the senior adult population will potentially double that of children by the midcentury. The United Nations Population Division reported in 1999 that there were 593 million persons aged sixty years or over, comprising 10% of the world’s population. By 2050, demographic prognosticators predict that this figure will triple to nearly two billion older persons, comprising 22% of the world’s population. While these statistics do not necessarily suggest an epic Malthusian crisis, the numbers are nonetheless astounding. Win and Charles Arn, report the following statistics: Senior citizens in the United States, which are sixty-five years and older outnumber the entire population of Canada. Since 1900, the median age of America’s population has risen by ten years, and since 1950, the number of Americans living over the age of one hundred has multiplied more than ten times. Demographers project that by 2020 senior adults, sixty-five plus in the United States will represent more than 17% of the nation’s population.We might call these staggering statistics the rumblings of an “agequake” that is shaking the very foundations of everything we thought we knew about our national demography. The aggregate number of senior adults in the United States, sixty-five and older, numbered 37.9 million as of 2007, up by more than 11% in just the last ten years. Sadly, about eleven million persons considered “non-institutionalized” and over sixty-five years of age live alone and about eight million of them are women.These figures, along with the self-evident aging of our own congregation at Calvary Baptist Church, inspired a practical, yet far-reaching ministry stratagem to leverage our existing resources to meet the needs of an ever-growing elder adult population. In hopes of avoiding a “tsunami of negligence,” Calvary set out to extend a Christ-like love towards those generations who have so faithfully served us in the past.Motivated by LoveA basic problem for some seniors in Calvary’s membership was a fundamental inability to attend weekly worship services due to immobility, poor health, and institutionalization. Taking the church’s ministry into the homes and hospital rooms of our members was a practical means of including them in the fellowship of our local congregation. Such is a homebound ministry based on the sound theological expectations of a caring God utilizing his church to meet the demands of an aging population. Theoretically, such outreach is crucial in keeping up with the challenges of a growing church membership and a transitioning city population.”The church does not serve the poor, infirm, or isolated elderly so much as it is called to a common life with them,” writes Roman Catholic theologian, David Matzko McCarthy. “Breaking bread, breaking the bonds of isolation, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the imprisoned are aspects of the church’s call to be God’s people.” The motivation for Calvary’s service came from grateful hearts that longed to minister as Christ, as if he was in our place serving the needs of others. Along with a prominent theological theme of incarnational ministry, the key in senior adult ministry is “inclusion” as an acknowledgment of the fact that many of today’s homebound prospects were at one time active church members. The project’s emphasis was not to serve out of pity or to assuage some collective guilt, but to advance God’s agenda using the theological concept of incarnational ministry and the biblical idea of missional living.”God’s love imposes the obligation of reciprocal love and the related obedience and loyalty.”
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