While standing in line at a store recently, I overheard a conversation between two middle-aged women. I couldn’t help but notice that each wore a cross around her neck. Though I didn’t know them personally, my ears really perked up when they started talking about their great-uncle who lived in a nursing home.
“I just can’t do it,” said one sister in frustration.
The other rolled her eyes and responded, “But if I have to visit him, I’ll be depressed for the rest of the week.”
It was a conversation that made me sad for the elderly uncle, but also for the countless other persons who feel the same way as these two women. It got me to thinking about the reasons Christians, both pastors and lay persons, give for not visiting frail older adults, including their own family members.
I began to write down the excuses I have heard personally. Next, I asked the Twitter community to respond with excuses they had heard or had given themselves. Finally, I grouped similar responses into a top-ten list. So, with a special hat-tip to David Letterman, here are the not-so-funny excuses Christians give for not visiting the elderly.
10. “Why should I? All my life, my mother has criticized me. Nothing’s going to change now that she’s old. It’s better for both of us if I just stay away.”
9. “I don’t know what to do when I visit an elderly person. It’s so awkward to just sit and look at each other.”
8. “I don’t have the time. I’ve got a family; I work full-time. Then there’s Sunday School lessons, choir practice and church meetings.”
7. “Other people from my church already visit the elderly.”
6. “But I go Christmas caroling at a nursing home each year.”
5. “I didn’t even know Mrs. Jones was in a nursing home.”
4. “I work with the youth.”
3. “It’s just too sad.”
2. “Visiting the elderly is not my gift.”
1. “Seeing old people struggle reminds me that I may be like that one day.”