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Tips for Visiting Seniors
By Bruce Nicola
Seniors like to talk. They are often lonely and have no one to share what is going on in their lives.
Be prepared to do a lot of listening! People will be interested in what you have to share—but, they will be more interested in telling you what is on their minds.
Ask them questions (See below for ideas).
Be patient—especially with Seniors as they tend to repeat themselves. Be patient. Everything they say is potentially important.  

You are there for them—not you. What is happening in their lives—not your life. The visit is not about you.

Be careful how you “correct” (never argue!) them when they say things that are not accurate—or that differ from your ideas and viewpoints. This especially true with doctrinal and other church issues of the day (women’s ordination, etc.). Look for common, shared beliefs between the two of you. Coach differences as questions—not statements of “fact.”

Keep listening!!! Try to hear the unspoken feelings and possible issues they are sharing—read between the words and lines—notice the body language and hear the tone of their voice.

Look at them when they are talking. Show that you are genuinely interested in what they are sharing. Don’t go to sleep!

Give them a hug (as gender appropriate). People—and especially Seniors—enjoy human contact.

You can only give advice. You are not a counselor or therapist, so please do not try to be one. You do not have to have all the answers. Refer as necessary.

Remember: 90% of caring is just showing up.

Always pray—people appreciate it and need it.

Some Visitation Questions
  • What has been/is your biggest life struggle?
  • What was your most painful life event(s)?
  • What is your most significant heartache right now?
  • What has been/is your greatest life joy(s)?
  • Are you certain of your salvation right now?
  • Are you looking forward to Jesus’ soon return?
  • Are your children Christians? SDA’s?
  • What helps you the most spiritually each day?
  • Who has helped you spiritually in your life?
  • Were your parents religious? Spiritual?
  • When did you become a Seventh-day Adventist?
  • When were you baptized?
  • Special answers to prayer? Experienced any miracles?
  • What would you do differently in your life now?
  • What would you like to do to support the church?
  • What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in life?
  • What has changed the most about you over your lifetime?
  • What is your picture of God?
  • Favorite hymn? Favorite Scripture? SOP quote?
  • What kind of prayer life do you have?
  • What can we pray for today that is most important to you?
  • Would you be willing to commit to praying for the local on a daily basis?
Bruce Nicola pastors the Orland and Willows churches in California.  He also serves as a chaplain for Feather River Hospital in Paradise, California