Sooner or later, we all have to face growing older.
Even with the astounding advances we’ve seen in health care, and the lengthening life expectancy rates of our elders, time marches on and our human chassis starts to give out. It’s a sad truth.
The challenges facing seniors can quickly escalate from losing a drivers license due to failing eyesight to breaking a hip, or worse, and facing the real possibility of needed around the clock nursing care.
For many, many seniors, they have a strong and compelling desire to stay in their own homes, to grow old on the same porch they rocked their grandchildren to sleep on during those wonderful and too rare family visits.
Consider this: A growing number of elderly people — 88 percent of those 65 and older — say they want to live in their own homes, in their own communities, as they age, according to a 2010 AARP survey.
And who can blame them. Staying in your own home offers comfort, familiarity, and security.
It’s a blessing there are folks like Pastor Tim Hawks of Ellerbe and his wife Diana, who are devoting themselves to a new ministry designed to keep senior citizens right where they want to be — at home.
The North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry is a statewide ministry whose mission is to help seniors older than 65 to remain in their homes as long as safely possible and to help support their spiritual and emotional needs. They are funded by the Baptist State Convention, Baptist churches and individual donations.
Tim Hawks is the pastor of New Hope Baptist Church on Highway 73 west in Ellerbe. He was approached in the spring by an Albemarle pastor about starting this ministry in Richmond County. After discussing this with his deacons, he said the church was excited and ready to jump on board.
“This ministry is to help seniors who live in their own homes but are financially or physically limited and can’t repair their homes,” said Hawks, the bi-vocational pastor of the church, where he has been pastor for eight years.
Hawks’ wife Diana said the repairs can include building a handicap ramp, widening doors, fixing a roof leak or a toilet. “If you go home and flip the light on and the bulb goes out, you think nothing of climbing on a chair and changing it,” said Diana. “What if you are an 85-year-old woman with a walker? Do you know how hard it can be for a senior to get fitted sheets on their bed?”
Hawks added, “The church committee will go and survey when we have a request and when all other resources — county, city — have been exhausted, that’s when we step in and help them out … .”
“As God leads people to come to our church, I want to take it a step further to going into the homes of seniors to visit,” he said. “Some people are just lonely.”
The time comes soon enough when we are the ones who need to be watched over and taken care of.
In the meantime, it’s nice to know there are people like Pastor Hawks looking out for us.