Emmons native to air thoughts on senior care

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 4, 2002

An Emmons native will be featured as part of a national Public Broadcasting System documentary, &uot;And Thou Shalt Honor.&uot; The program will air from 8-10 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, on KYIN Iowa Public Television, cable channel 11 in Albert Lea.

The Rev. Lois Knutson, daughter of Olive Knutson of Emmons, is the primary spiritual caregiver in the program. She said she became involved because of the book she has written, &uot;Understanding the Senior Adult: A Tool for Wholistic Ministry.&uot;

Knutson serves as visitation pastor at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Montevideo, where out of the nearly 2,000 members there are 500 senior adults above the age of 65. She also is the chaplain at Luther Haven Nursing Home, where she serves 120 residents. As such, she has a specialty in senior adult ministry, and leads seminars all over the country on the topic of &uot;Organizing for Effective Congregational Senior Adult Ministry.&uot;

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She said within her own congregation, there are many spiritual caregivers. &uot;I think in terms of spiritual care in congregations, I would like to suggest to congregations that they develop a goal-centered, high-quality senior adult ministry program so that senior adults don’t get the leftover time on the pastor’s schedule or in the congregation’s schedule.&uot;

The current statistic in congregations is that at least 25 percent of the membership is comprised of senior adults. &uot;When we baby boomers become aging persons in the congregation who need the intentional care from their congregations, we are going to want quality programs,&uot; Knutson said. &uot;We are going to want programs that help us intentionally experience spiritual meaning and peace in life and we aren’t just going to want social programs in the church. We’re going to want in-depth programs and I think we need to begin that now.&uot;

&uot;And Thou Shalt Honor: Caring for Our Aging Parents, Spouses and Friends,&uot; is a ground-breaking two-hour documentary hosted by award-winning actor Joe Mantegna. The film and its accompanying nationwide outreach program is the first major PBS initiative on caregiving, an emerging healthcare issue of staggering proportions.

Filmed all over America, the program makes it clear that today’s longer lifespans come at a cost, and that a disproportionate amount of that cost is borne by those who step up to assume responsibility for their loved ones. Not everything about long-term caregiving is dark, however; this commitment can be a spiritual journey that expands the boundaries of love.

Knutson said she is a long-distance caregiver to her own mother, who lives a 400-mile round-trip drive from Montevideo.

&uot;For me, caregiving is an opportunity to be a vehicle for God &045; as they said to bring inner peace to people &045; whether it is my own family or my parishioners. The opportunity for caregiving personally for me evolves from my mother being a family caregiver to my grandmother when my grandmother had Alzheimer’s in the later years of her life,&uot; Knutson said.

&uot;I saw my mother become quite a sacrificial, dedicated, loving caregiver to my grandmother, and as a long-distance caregiver to my mother, my goal is just to be the best daughter to her that I can,&uot; she said.

&uot;And Thou Shalt Honor&uot; will be extended by a national outreach campaign, an extensive searchable Web site already in operation at www.thoushalthonor.org, and a resource book, &uot;The Caregiver’s Companion.&uot;