Every family has a legacy. What we do in this life will mark the lives we touch. How well we live will influence how well we die. May God help us all to learn that the legacies that we are left and that we leave are not the monies or the things that are left behind but the memories, the love, and the lessons that are left within.
Life is an interesting journey that many times ends the same way it began. A helpless infant depends on its family to care for its many needs. In a similar manner many elderly parents find themselves unable to meet their basic needs as they near the end of their lives. It can be mental, physical, or even emotional difficulties that put an elderly person in need of care. There is a great difference though in the caring process. While it is natural for a parent to care for an infant, it is humbling and sometimes even humiliating for parents to admit their need for help with daily personal care.
Dying is a scary business. Most unbelievers, like believers, hope to leave a legacy behind for children and grandchildren. Yet many will burn through their estates because of the high cost of end of life care. I believe that as followers of Jesus Christ our legacy is a living legacy. Our legacy is not what we leave behind but rather what we have instilled within.
We have very little to no control over how, when, or where we will die. As a result, we put little or no emphasis on preparing ourselves or our children for the end of life experience. If we wait till our parents are actually in need of our care to find out what it means to really care for them well, it will be much more difficult. We will be grieving at the same time we are learning how to care.
Those who still have children at home can begin now to teach them how to care for the elderly. Take them to visit those in assisted living situations both in people’s homes and in apartment complexes. Let them see how those who are well enough are being cared for in their homes or the homes of their children. Help them to understand that not all are well enough to be cared for by family members and that there is no shame in this as long as they are in places where their needs are being met. Caring for family members in assisted living or skilled care looks different from caring for them at home. There is still a need for time and resource investments, but 24-hour care is not easily provided in a home situation.
There is a lot of elderly neglect on the part of families all around the world. Through exposing your children to the needs of the elderly You will be meeting a great need and leaving a legacy that that has eternal dividends. They will not only see how important it is to prepare financially and emotionally for their last years, but they will also have opportunities to love the elderly and learn how to love them well.
Getting old is not pretty, not exciting, and definitely not fun. Caring for the elderly is the opposite of caring for an infant. We get so excited when that little one makes each new advancement. We grieve with our elders as they lose their faculties one after another. Yet, we are commanded in Scripture to honor our parents and to care for those in need. Leviticus 19:32 and Ephesians 6:1 are just two of the many verses on this subject.
No elder should have to grieve their losses alone or die without end of life loving care. I truly pray, may God help us all to learn that the legacies that we are left and that we leave are not the monies, the things that are left behind but the memories, the love, and the lessons that are left within. May we live out Matthew 25:40.