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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