Twelve Ways to Minister to the Elderly

Serving the elderlyMany residents living in retirement centers and nursing homes are lonely and have little contact with their families. By investing a few hours of your time, you will not only bless the residents but also provide a great growing and teaching opportunity for your children. Even more importantly, caring for widows and the elderly is pleasing to God (Leviticus 19:32, 1 Timothy 5:3, James 1:27).

  • If a relative lives in a retirement home, visit them often! Schedule visits as part of your week or at regular times, maybe on Sunday afternoons, or have a meal with them.
  • Bring pictures, drawings, or flowers.
  • Find pen-pals or people you can write letters to.
  • Offer to read a book or newspaper to someone who can’t read well.
  • Bring in small, safe animals like kittens or baby bunnies (check with the staff first!)
  • Ask a staff member for names of residents who may not see family for their birthdays or holidays. Bring them a gift or send a card on their birthday.
  • Keep a list of prayer requests and pray for the people you meet.
  • Ask questions! Senior citizens love to tell stories, and they have many interesting ones to tell. You never know what you will learn.
  • If anyone in your family is musical, bring along your instruments. Organize a “concert” with singing and/or instrumental music. You might talk to the activities director and schedule your concert on the activities calendar so other residents can come. If your children take music lessons, ask their teacher to consider a recital at a retirement home. You’ll have an appreciative audience, and your young musicians will build confidence and performance skills.
  • Offer to organize a holiday event. Conduct a special party for Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, someone’s anniversary, or another special day. Check with the activities director for approval or to see whether there is a specific need.
  • Organize Sunday worship services or a Bible study. Talk to the activities director for information about what they need or allow. Most centers are very receptive. You may also want to involve your pastor or other families from your church.
  • Brainstorm with your children to think of more ideas. This is a good exercise in thinking of others!


This article by Daniel Forster was originally published in the Fall 2011 issue of Homeschooling Today® magazine. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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  1. My grandma came to live with my family when I was seven years old. What a blessing it was to be raised around the previous generation.

    I really liked your comment about asking the elderly questions. We all learn by hearing stories…Jesus taught us His precepts and truths using stories. The elderly love to talk to someone who really wants to listen and they have so much to share with us. Thank you for this article.

    Susan Mueller

  2. We find this much neglected ministry to be such a blessing to US. I find it sad that so many people miss out on the chance to be loved on by the senior saints in their area. We have been so blessed. True, they never make us a meal, they seldom stop over, or call, they don’t offer to babysit, or help with a building project and true we have to go to them, but we are loved by them none-the-less. I am truly amazed when my children say “Aren’t we going to visit Mrs. SweetOldLady soon? I miss her.” God is so faithful. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Help… A few weeks ago I was asked by my pastor to check in on a lady who is 77. She had called the church needing grocery assistance. I was more than willing and I wanted to minister to her about Jesus. She has been ill most of our visits but this time I took her hand and knelt by the bed and said I am going to pray for you. She accepted the offer. I began to pray and the spirit did most of the words (Praise The Lord)

    Here is where I need help she said she thanked me but she didn’t want to hear anymore about the headings and thanked me again. I asked what spirit is she meditating to and she was reluctant to answer only said she doesn’t believe in”religion” I believe she is speaking of Christ who she rejects. What do I do continue to show the love of Christ or do as the bible says and kick the dust off my feet and move on? I need endurance to keep conversations away From own personal life because from what I have told her she thinks my husband is controlling because we only grocery shop 2 times a month. It’s a very awkward feeling and situation. Any guidance is appreciated as she is a pessimistic person as well, thanks!

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