Ann Sherrod is anointed with oil as worship concludes a retreat for older adults in April.
Photos by Holly McCray
Robert Oltmanns receives the blessing of oil.
No hands went up when Linda Crawford asked who was excited about moving into a nursing home.
The crowd had been smiling, laughing along with humorist Carol Dean Schreiner. Crawford’s question silenced the room.
The term nursing home can stop cold any conversation. But "Where Are You Hungry? A Menu for Wholeness" served up tough topics as well as lighter fare at an event sponsored by the Oklahoma Conference’s Older Adult Ministry Council.
OKC-St. Luke’s hosted 80 people during the April 23 program for senior adults. They discussed their life stories and learned to write a spiritual autobiography. They visited vendors at display booths. They laughed with Schreiner "for the health of it," according to her session title. She directs senior adult ministry at McFarlin UMC, Norman.
And they plowed through discomfort to tackle the subject of aging.
A toddler’s walk is described as cute, Crawford noted. But an unsteady gait in older adults is seen as sad.
"We have a lot of work to do to understand aging is nothing more than God’s plan for life. But we run from that work," she said.
She encouraged visiting residents in retirement communities. "If senior adults volunteer, they have more in common with the residents," Crawford said. "Same generation. Easier to relate."
Crawford is a registered nurse and educator at United Methodist-related Epworth Villa Retirement Center, Oklahoma City. She also works to change the culture of traditional nursing homes through The Eden Alternative.
Presenter Karla Woodward affirmed, "People who are in long-term care are not there to die. They are there to live until they die."
She led the day’s final session, "Have It Your Way." To accomplish that, be proactive about the rest of your life, Rev. Woodward declared, especially about your health and future care needs.
Decide in advance what you value and what concerns you. Talk with others about your wishes. Choose someone to speak for you in case you become incapacitated.
She provided the workbook "Caring Conversations" as a resource.
Woodward is pastor of Silver Link Ministries for UM Church of the Resurrection in Kansas.
George Shepherd of Norman and Gail Edmison of Enid co-chair the Older Adult Ministry Council.