Each week AFL posts an Anglicans in Action video, which gives practical suggestions, resources, and ideas for life-ministry. This week’s focus is safeguarding those in nursing homes. You can see all the Anglicans in Action videos on our YouTube Channel.

Did you know that by 2020 it is projected that the global population of those 65 and older will surpass those under the age of 5 for the first time in human history? Our friends and family members are living longer than ever, which has changed how and where we care for the elderly. While in the past, elderly people lived with family members or grown children, today they are more frequently living in retirement communities and nursing homes. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, there are currently 1.4 million individuals who live in nursing homes!

While for many older people and their families this is the best option for their housing and care, the negative side of nursing homes is the lack of connection to family and friends. Too often, adult children and grandchildren can be so busy with their own lives that they don’t make it a priority to visit with aging and ailing loved ones.

This is not only tragic for their psychological well-being but also potentially for their safety. Nursing home residents without visitors are at greater risk of neglect or even abuse. With sometimes inadequate staffing and/or high nurse and aide turnover, it is important that those in nursing homes have someone who will look out for them and invest in their care while they’re a resident there.

This week’s action idea features three things you can do to help safeguard a friend or relative through the duration of their residence in a nursing home:

1. Get to know the staff and tell them about your friend or relative – especially likes or dislikes!

2. Notice “red flags” like poor personal hygiene, unexplained injuries, weight loss, emotional changes, environmental hazards etc. and know who to contact if you see a problem. These could be signs of neglect and abuse.

3. if you are the health care power of attorney for your relative or friend, ask about a care conference with the nursing home staff or managers. Care conferences usually cover topics like medications, pain management, eating, and mobility, as well as how the resident is doing in general. These conferences will help you understand how to make sure the patient is getting the best care possible.

Older people living in nursing homes really benefit from having an advocate or friend who can watch out for them. Leviticus 19:32 says You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God. This verse reminds us of the value God places on the elderly and encourages us to embrace the unique opportunity we have to serve them and make sure they know and receive the love of Jesus where they are.