It Is Possible for Older Adults to Find Their Purpose Again
Missy Buchanan encourages older adults to continue growing in faith and relationships
by Audra Jennings Tuesday, January 18, 2011
“Here’s the truth. I never set out to write a book for or about older adults. It’s not like I woke up one day with a clear vision that I should pen thoughts about what it’s like to grow old,” explains Buchanan. “I was just a middle-aged woman caring for my own aging parents and trying to encourage other seniors who were also struggling with faltering eyesight and a loss of independence in their so-called golden years. I was an empty-nester looking forward to spending more time with my husband and becoming a grandmother one day. Sometimes in this life God seems to nudge us toward something we never expected. That’s usually when we discover once again that our Father does indeed know best.”
As we grow older, we often lose our sense of purpose, especially as we become unable to attend church services and become less connected with the social ties we once had. Buchanan hopes to create a greater awareness of this and how we can reach out to older adults. She also provides advice for seniors to help them better connect with those around them. Buchanan believes that the faith community often lets their older adults down as they become unable to attend worship services and church activities. If they become physically unable to do many things they once did, they may begin to separate from their church community. When this separation occurs, they often lose a sense of purpose. Without purpose, they feel as though they are just waiting to die.
The things that make Buchanan’s books so applicable to this age group is that she writes the devotionals in first person. She also writes devotionals about things that are from their daily experiences—sensible shoes, going to the mailbox to find it empty, the fear of using a power chair, etc. Children and grandchildren forget that the older adults have rich stories to share. Many have lived long, good lives and have a lot of perspectives about life that those who are younger can learn from and value. Often older adults just do not feel appreciated for the experiences that they have had.
In addition to reaching out to the older generation, Buchanan also helps the younger generations better understand what their parents and grandparents are going through. While many consider caring for their parents to be a role-reversal, Buchanan explains why that is not an accurate description. Although parents may become more dependent on their children, they are not children, and thinking of it as a role reversal in that way can strip them of their dignity.
Buchanan’s parents may no longer be living, but she continues to visit the residential care facility where they lived. She calls them her “late in life” friends. Although she attends many funerals, Buchanan says that when a person has lived a long full and productive life it is hard not to smile a bit. “My parents have gone on to eternal glory, but I still have a host of older adult friends I visit each week. They are my inspiration,” Buchanan explains. She offers words of inspiration to those friends as well, “Don’t close the book until the story is finished.”
Click here to watch Missy Buchanan’s recent interview with
Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts and Roberts’ 86-year-old mother.
Visit Missy Buchanan’s website, www.missybuchanan.com, and blog, http://missybu.wordpress.com/.
Become a friend on Facebook (Aging and Faith) and follow on Twitter (MissyBuchanan).
Audra Jennings is Senior Media Specialist at The B & B Media Group. Since 1987, The B & B Media Group, Inc. has used its broadcasting, marketing and advertising experience to provide the specialized and strategic publicity necessary to achieve the public relations goals of each client. The Barnabas Agency, a division of The B & B Media Group, Inc., is a proven provider of exceptional public relations and personal management services for authors, speakers, ministries and organizations.
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