Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2


Chapter 83—Geriatrics

Usefulness Not at an End—The aged also need the helpful influences of the family. In the home of brethren and sisters in Christ can most nearly be made up to them the loss of their own home. If encouraged to share in the interests and occupations of the household, it will help them to feel that their usefulness is not at an end. Make them feel that their help is valued, that there is something yet for them to do in ministering to others, and it will cheer their hearts and give interest to their lives.—The Ministry of Healing, 204 (1905). 2MCP 745.1

Familiar Surroundings Desirable—As far as possible let those whose whitening heads and failing steps show that they are drawing near to the grave remain among friends and familiar associations. Let them worship among those whom they have known and loved. Let them be cared for by loving and tender hands.—The Ministry of Healing, 204 (1905). 2MCP 745.2

Homes for Aged Not the Remedy—The matter of caring for our aged brethren and sisters who have no homes is constantly being urged. What can be done for them? The light which the Lord has given me has been repeated: It is not best to establish institutions for the care of the aged, that they may be in a company together. Nor should they be sent away from home to receive care. Let the members of every family minister to their own relatives. When this is not possible, the work belongs to the church, and it should be accepted both as a duty and as a privilege. All who have Christ's spirit will regard the feeble and aged with special respect and tenderness.—Testimonies for the Church 6:272 (1900). 2MCP 745.3

Sweetens and Refines the Life—The presence in our homes of one of these helpless ones is a precious opportunity to cooperate with Christ in His ministry of mercy and to develop traits of character like His. There is a blessing in the association of the old and the young. The young may bring sunshine into the hearts and lives of the aged. Those whose hold on life is weakening need the benefit of contact with the hopefulness and buoyancy of youth. And the young may be helped by the wisdom and experience of the old. Above all they need to learn the lesson of unselfish ministry. The presence of one in need of sympathy and forbearance and self-sacrificing love would be to many a household a priceless blessing. It would sweeten and refine the homelife and call forth in old and young those Christlike graces that would make them beautiful with a divine beauty and rich in heaven's imperishable treasure.—The Ministry of Healing, 204, 205 (1905). 2MCP 746.1

Youth and Age Uniting Forces—How touching to see youth and old age relying one upon the other: the youth looking up to the aged for counsel and wisdom, the aged looking to the youth for help and sympathy. This is as it should be. God would have the young possess such qualification of character that they shall find delight in the friendship of the old, that they may be united in the endearing bonds of affection to those who are approaching the borders of the grave.—The Signs of the Times, October 19, 1888. (Sons and Daughters of God, 161.) 2MCP 746.2

The Care of Aged Parents—Parents are entitled to a degree of love and respect which is due to no other person. God Himself, who has placed upon them a responsibility for the souls committed to their charge, has ordained that during the earlier years of life, parents shall stand in the place of God to their children. And he who rejects the rightful authority of his parents is rejecting the authority of God. The fifth commandment requires children not only to yield respect, submission, and obedience to their parents but also to give them love and tenderness, to lighten their cares, to guard their reputation, and to succor and comfort them in old age. It also enjoins respect for ministers and rulers and for all others to whom God has delegated authority.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 308 (1890). 2MCP 747.1

Vigor Declines as Years Advance—Those who have the aged to provide for should remember that these especially need warm, comfortable rooms. Vigor declines as years advance, leaving less vitality with which to resist unhealthful influences; hence the greater necessity for the aged to have plenty of sunlight and fresh, pure air.—The Ministry of Healing, 275 (1905). 2MCP 747.2

Adjusting to Declining Mental Strength—It is frequently the case that aged persons are unwilling to realize and acknowledge that their mental strength is failing. They shorten their days by taking care which belongs to their children. Satan often plays upon their imagination and leads them to feel a continual anxiety in regard to their money. It is their idol, and they hoard it with miserly care. They will sometimes deprive themselves of many of the comforts of life and labor beyond their strength, rather than use the means which they have. In this way they place themselves in continual want, through fear that sometime in the future they shall want. 2MCP 747.3

All these fears originate with Satan. He excites the organs which lead to slavish fears and jealousies which corrupt nobleness of soul and destroy elevated thoughts and feelings. Such persons are insane upon the subject of money. 2MCP 747.4

If they would take the position which God would have them, their last days might be their best and happiest. Those who have children in whose honesty and judicious management they have reason to confide, should let their children make them happy. Unless they do this, Satan will take advantage of their lack of mental strength and will manage for them. They should lay aside anxiety and burdens and occupy their time as happily as they can, and be ripening up for heaven.—Testimonies for the Church 1:423, 424 (1864). 2MCP 748.1

Recent Memory Passes Fast—He who has grown old in the service of God may find his mind a blank in regard to the things that are happening about him, and recent transactions may soon pass from his memory; but his mind is all awake to the scenes and transactions of his childhood. Oh, that the youth may realize how important it is to keep the mind guarded, pure and clean, from corrupting thoughts and to preserve the soul from all debasing practices, for the purity or impurity of youth is reflected upon old age.—The Youth's Instructor, October 25, 1894. (Sons and Daughters of God, 78.) 2MCP 748.2

Traits Intensify in Old Age—I was shown David entreating the Lord not to forsake him when he should be old, and what it was that called forth his earnest prayer. He saw that most of the aged around him were unhappy and that unhappy traits of character increased especially with age. If persons were naturally close and covetous, they were most disagreeably so in their old age. If they were jealous, fretful, and impatient, they were especially so when aged.—Testimonies for the Church 1:422 (1864). 2MCP 748.3

Unrestrained Jealousy and Failing Judgment—David was distressed as he saw that kings and nobles who seemed to have the fear of God before them while in the strength of manhood became jealous of their best friends and relatives when aged. They were in continual fear that it was selfish motives which led their friends to manifest an interest for them. They would listen to the hints and the deceptive advice of strangers in regard to those in whom they should confide. Their unrestrained jealousy sometimes burned into a flame because all did not agree with their failing judgment. Their covetousness was dreadful. They often thought that their own children and relatives were wishing them to die in order to take their place and possess their wealth and receive the homage which had been bestowed upon them. And some were so controlled by their jealous, covetous feelings as to destroy their own children.—Testimonies for the Church 1:422, 423 (1864). 2MCP 748.4

David's Prayer for His Old Age—David marked that although the lives of some while in the strength of manhood had been righteous, as old age came upon them they seemed to lose their self-control. Satan stepped in and guided their minds, making them restless and dissatisfied. He saw that many of the aged seemed forsaken of God and exposed themselves to the ridicule and reproaches of his enemies. 2MCP 749.1

David was deeply moved; he was distressed as he looked forward to the time when he should be aged. He feared that God would leave him and that he would be as unhappy as other aged persons whose course he had noticed, and would be left to the reproach of the enemies of the Lord. With this burden upon him he earnestly prays, “Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.” “O God, Thou hast taught me from my youth; and hitherto have I declared Thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have showed Thy strength unto this generation, and Thy power to everyone that is to come” (Psalm 71:9, 17, 18). David felt the necessity of guarding against the evils which attend old age.—Testimonies for the Church 1:423 (1864). 2MCP 749.2

Providing for Use of Entrusted Means—Brother L is a steward of God. He has been entrusted with means and should be awake to his duty and render to God the things that are God's. He should not fail to understand the claims that God has upon him. While he lives and has his reasoning powers, he should improve the opportunity of appropriating the property that God has entrusted to him, instead of leaving it for others to use and appropriate after the close of his life.—Testimonies for the Church 2:675 (1871). 2MCP 750.1

Do Not Leave Loose Ends—Brother L should have his business all straight and not left at loose ends. It is his privilege to be rich in good works and to lay up for himself a good foundation against the time to come that he may lay hold on eternal life. It is not safe for him to follow his failing judgment. He should counsel with experienced brethren and seek wisdom of God that he may do up his work well. He should now be really in earnest, providing himself “bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not.”—Testimonies for the Church 2:676 (1871). 2MCP 750.2

Aged Workers Not to Be Set Aside—The most tender interest should be cherished toward those whose life interest is bound up with the work of God. Notwithstanding their many infirmities, these workers still possess talents that qualify them to stand in their lot and place. God desires them to occupy leading positions in His work. They have stood faithful amid storm and trial and are among our most valuable counselors. How thankful we should be that they can still use their gifts in the Lord's service! 2MCP 750.3

Let not the fact be lost sight of that in the past these earnest wrestlers sacrificed everything to advance the work. The fact that they have grown old and gray in the service of God is no reason why they should cease to exert an influence superior to the influence of men who have far less knowledge of the work and far less experience in divine things. 2MCP 750.4

Though worn and unable to bear the heavier burdens that younger men can and should carry, their value as counselors is of the highest order. They have made mistakes, but they have learned wisdom from their failures; they have learned to avoid errors and dangers, and are they not then competent to give wise counsel? They have borne test and trial, and though they have lost some of their vigor, they are not to be pushed aside by less-experienced workers who know very little about the labor and self-sacrifice of these pioneers. The Lord does not thus lay them aside. He gives them special grace and knowledge.—Testimonies for the Church 7:287, 288 (1902). 2MCP 751.1

To Be Honored and Respected—The old standard-bearers who are still living should not be put in hard places. Those who served their Master when the work went hard, who endured poverty and remained faithful to the truth when our numbers were small, are ever to be honored and respected. I am instructed to say: Let every believer respect the aged pioneers who have borne trials and hardships and many privations. They are God's workmen and have acted a prominent part in the building up of His work.—Testimonies for the Church 7:289 (1902). 2MCP 751.2

To Be Treated as Fathers and Mothers—While the aged standard-bearers are in the field, let those who have been benefited by their labors care for and respect them. Do not load them down with burdens. Appreciate their advice, their words of counsel. Treat them as fathers and mothers who have borne the burden of the work. The workers who have in the past anticipated the needs of the cause do a noble work when, in the place of carrying all the burdens themselves, they lay them upon the shoulders of younger men and women and educate them as Elijah educated Elisha.—The Review and Herald, March 20, 1900. (Selected Messages 2:227.) 2MCP 751.3

Counsel to Old and Tried Gospel Laborers—May the Lord bless and sustain our old and tried laborers. May He help them to be wise in regard to the preservation of their physical, mental, and spiritual powers. I have been instructed by the Lord to say to those who bore their testimony in the early days of the message: “God has endowed you with the power of reason, and He desires you to understand and obey the laws that have to do with the health of the being. Do not be imprudent. Do not overwork. Take time to rest. God desires you to stand in your lot and place, doing your part to save men and women from being swept downward by the mighty current of evil. He desires you to keep the armor on till He bids you lay it off. Not long hence you will receive your reward.”—Testimonies for the Church 7:289 (1902). 2MCP 752.1

The Greatest Danger—I am bidden to say to my aged brethren, Walk humbly with God. Be not accusers of the brethren. You are to do your appointed work under the direction of the God of Israel. The inclination to criticize is the greatest danger of many. The brethren whom you are tempted to criticize are called to bear responsibilities which you could not possibly carry, but you can be their helpers. You can do great service to the cause, if you will, by presenting your experience in the past in connection with the labors of others. The Lord has not given to any of you the work of correcting and censuring your brethren,—Letter 204, 1907. (Evangelism, 106, 107.) 2MCP 752.2