Our one congregation is going through a rough patch with the senior members. We have had 4 in hospital for fairly long term stays over the past few weeks. One of them has been moved to palliative care and it is just a matter of time before she leaves us, one had surgery but hopes to go home very soon after a long stay, one is not going to be able to go home but will be placed in a nursing home and the spouse in this case is not in great health either, another is undergoing chemotherapy.
This morning yet another parishioner was hospitalized and we are awaiting word of her diagnosis. She appeared to be well yesterday at our church luncheon fundraiser so it was rather a shock to find out she may have developed a problem in the meantime.
Slowly but surely our all ready tiny congregation is being decimated by illnesses of the aging variety. It is very hard to watch them falling like dominoes as the months go by. This winter was so long and so hard on all of them. My husband feels like hospital visitation is becoming the main focus of his ministry here. He is so glad we have a local hospital where all of them have been admitted. It makes it much easier for him to see them at least twice a week.
The most heart breaking situations to me are the ones where one half of a married couple requires a move to a nursing home and the other is still able to be at home. At least there are a couple of options for extended care right here in town. Couples can still visit together most every day for a few hours if they want to.
In other places I have lived, if there are no spaces vacant locally then the person requiring care is often moved not only across a city, but very often to a completely different town that has a room available. The distances can be insurmountable for the spouse still at home if that person is not capable of driving an hour or two each direction to go and visit. I saw a lot of these situations when I was doing elder care and in the 12 years since I stopped doing that work the situation has not improved one bit. Couples who have been together for decades are forced into a separation and it devastates them.
We are so cruel to our seniors. I admit I have one fear in life and that is my husband and I being separated against our will when we are older. I have nightmares about it sometimes. How I pray that if and when we reach that stage we will be able to stay together. After seeing so much separation of elderly couples I can hardly bear to even write about it or think about it. It is an area where I have to trust God more than I have been able to to date.