The Word of God contains passages and examples like Paul wrote in Ephesians: “Honor your father and mother that your days on earth will be long.”
What does “honor” mean? Discussing our parents means showing them respect, love, and obedience. It is a commandment from God.

Jesus set an example of being an obedient child, respecting His parents, and even on the cross looking after His mother. His love for Mary was significant, even when He died for our sins. He knew He would not be there to care for his mother, so He assigned a brother to ensure she was cared for after He was gone.

His love for His Heavenly Father shows through when He tells His disciples that He did not come to do His own will but the will of His Father. At that time the Law of Moses was still in effect as Jesus lived under this binding Law. During this time in typical fashion, Jesus showed us an example of how to obey the commandments.

Exodus 20:12 says, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

It means…

  • Honoring our parents means recognizing their authority and role in our lives.
  • Respecting them and being grateful for their sacrifices, guidance, and wisdom.
  • Caring for them in their old age, just as they cared for us while we were young.
  • Treating them with dignity and compassion.
  • Recognizing their value as human beings created in the image of God.
  • Obeying them when we were young and respecting and caring for them when they are older and may need our help.
  • Showing them love, respect, and gratitude.
  • Treating them as we want to be treated.

As Christians, we are to honor them when they need more care and can’t take care of themselves. Alzheimer’s or dementia can be challenging, but it is important to approach the situation with love, patience, and understanding.
Minor changes to their environment can make a big difference in a person’s quality of life, and it is important to get additional support or resources if needed.

Here are some suggestions. 

  • Spend time with them. Visiting our parents regularly, even a short visit, can mean a lot to them. It shows how we value and love them.
  • Help with household tasks: As our parents age, they may find it more difficult to keep up with household tasks, such as cooking and cleaning. Offering to help with these tasks can take off some of the burdens.
  • Support their interests. Ask questions. Learn about your family history. Help them with a favorite hobby, or ask about family history, where they have traveled, and whom they knew growing up. Support their interests.
  • Listen to them. Learn about their history, stories, and advice. This shows honor and respect for them.
  • Pray for them. Pray for their health and their spiritual well-being. Show that you love them.
  • If your parents require more care than we can provide, seeking professional help, such as a caregiver or assisted living facility, honors them. But you’re continued overseeing the kind of care they receive, which is crucial.
  • Don’t leave their care to others. Oversee everything about them. Abuse can happen in any place. See that their needs are met. Please drop in and out of their residence without warning to see how they are treated and ensure they are fed and not mistreated.

Remember that you are helping because they need the help, not to have you or someone else control their lives. Respect their dignity. Acknowledge that the changes may be difficult for them. Use positive language. Focus on what they can do, not what they cannot do.

Offer solutions, like setting up transportation for them, if you do not live in the same town. Involve the whole family in discussions about their care but refrain from arguing. If they are in a nursing facility, have only one family member talk to the staff. Too many people will cause trouble for the staff or your parent. Agree with siblings that you will not talk about others behind their backs. Keep the sense of unity. Pray together. Prayer can be a healing time for all. It lets them know you are concerned about their care and help in difficult times. Use lots of gratitude for them and the example of their lives.

Before we end this discussion of care, here are a few symptoms you might need to know they might need more help.

  • Memory loss. Forgetting regular appointments or essential dates can usually be a signal to watch for more forgetfulness.
  • Do they forget how to do daily chores? Lots of clutter can be hazardous. They may need help with cleaning every other week.
  • How to dress? Do they forget personal grooming habits? Not bathing or brushing teeth?
  • Do you notice mood swings? They have become irritable, anxious?
  • Communication problems can involve difficulty following conversations or finding the right word.
  • Changes in behavior? Impulsivity? Anxious? Withdrawn? Aggressive?
    These signs can make you aware that they are having difficulty living alone or caring for themselves. Discuss options with them.
  • Find out what resources are available in your community.
  • What government programs are available for them?
  • Medicare? Medicaid? VA benefits?
  • Seek support from friends and neighbors to watch for them.
  • Do they have long-term insurance for nursing care?
  • Find out where their important papers are and who is to take care of things when necessary. (The executor of a will. Lockbox? Bank accounts? Savings? Bonds? Any Certificates? Social Security?
  • Be ready for hospitalization if necessary. Have a list of medications they are taking. Take
    an Advance Directive to tell what steps others will take to honor their wishes.
  • Have a list of names and phone numbers by their phone. Be prepared for any
  • There are alarm buttons for help. Do they have an ambulance service provided?
  • Have they got the funeral prearranged? Burial plot? Do you know their wishes for the kind of service they desire? If any of this is already arranged for,

It is essential to know what to do if an emergency arises. Being prepared is so much easier than panicking with lots of emotions. As Christians prepare for eternity, there is hope that others do not have. That does not mean there will not be. Be tears, but there is a peace that passes all understanding when you know they are ready to go “home.”

If, by chance, your parent is lingering in a coma or such, a hospice nurse taught us to whisper to them, “It is OK for you to go. We will take care of ______? (mom) I was there to say that to my father, and he soon released his body. It was a comfort to know where he was going.

As hard as it is to say goodbye, the hope of eternity with them is a blessing. Our gratefulness to God for good parents is beyond measure. If you were not fortunate to have good parents, it is time to let go of anger, and forgiveness can erase bitterness from your heart. May God bless us all in our journeys home to be with Him.

Cheryl Ginnings
+ posts

Cheryl Ginnings is a minister’s wife, mother of three, sister in Christ, Bible class teacher, retreat, and women’s day speaker for 40 years.

From birth, Cheryl has been part of a minister’s family. Her mother and father were writers of Christian literature for Gospel Advocate. Cheryl married Monte Ginnings while at Oklahoma Christian, and they have just celebrated 57 years. Cheryl has been writing Christian literature since the ’70s.

Cheryl began teaching Bible class teachers while Monte was in graduate school. She has spoken across the country, teaching how to study the Bible, during ladies’ days, and at Christian Universities.

She started a network for women to connect with others and later gave it to Harding University, where it became WINGS.

Their oldest child was born with severe cerebral palsy and has required total care all his life. They are grateful that God has blessed them with wonderful people who have encouraged them and provided care when needed.

During Cheryl’s life, she cared for her mother-in-law and her parents, even when it meant driving across the country. Because of the difficulties and challenges, Cheryl has become an advocate for caregivers and special needs families.

During the past few years, Cheryl hosted a weekly radio program, interviewed 150 caregivers, and wrote a book called It Takes Courage to be a Caregiver, sharing tips and answers to people's problems while caring for others.

She has 133 podcasts called “Courage-2-Overcome,” and the app requested her programs on their app. Her work has provided lots of opportunities to speak out of the country and be part of 16 books with others, and 6 became International Best Selling.

She wrote the book to help people learn the truth about salvation and staying faithful called, “Am I On the Right Road to Heaven?” Her books are on Amazon.

She has been interviewed often about caregiving. She spoke at PTP a few years ago about special needs children and caregiving and how the response the church can make in the families’ lives. She is beginning a new podcast called “Heartfelt Perspectives” to strengthen families.

Recently, Cheryl was at the first World Autism Summit out of Canada, and in November will be part of the World’s Global Summit out of Paris, France. Cheryl is actively writing and speaking to help influence the world for Christ.

It is her desire to be a light in the darkness to impact others for Christ. She has taught how to teach the Bible in many states and many congregations.