WILMINGTON, NC, February 10, 2022 /24-7PressRelease/ — Emotional health and spiritual health are two issues that are of primary concern for all of us, but especially seniors. Both become even more important when a senior is living in an assisted living facility and may have limited access to travel outside that facility, as neither mental health issues nor spiritual needs follow a timetable or schedule. It is urgent that seniors get the help they need, as the highest suicide rate in the US population is people over the age of 85. Frances Fuller, award-winning author of “Helping Yourself Grow Old”, addressed this issue in a recent post on her site entitled “Is There A Chaplain In The House?”
If you are helping an elderly person choose an assisted care community, be sure to ask: Is there a chaplain?
This is not a minor detail. It is one of the essentials. Anytime you have a building full of elderly people, as you do in such a residence, you have a bundle of needs: physical, social, emotional, spiritual, mental.
For a whole year now I have lived in this home for the elderly, one designed for both independent and assisted care. In this home we have medical care, protection from the covid pandemic, good food, learning opportunities, fun activities, exercise, and opportunities for friendship.
We also have permission to express grievances and unmet needs. Group discussions have motivated the residents to ask that a professional chaplain be added to the staff. We know that some of our problems are not physical. In fact, our physical difficulties often create emotional and spiritual difficulties.
Yesterday, for instance, a former professional woman, proudly independent, had difficulty getting out of her dining room chair. Her legs did not want to push her up. A man who lives in an automated wheelchair, trying so hard to recover the use of various parts of his body after a stroke, admitted, because I asked, that he is not getting better. These are people who once made the world go around, now needing help from others.
Because we had snow, a woman told several friends at the dining table about the beautiful boots she used to have that were lost in her move to assisted care, just thrown by her family into the pile of stuff going to Goodwill. Though she rarely goes outdoors in any season, she stays angry about those boots.
The truth is, people here get worried, depressed, sad, homesick, lonely, resentful.
A little known fact of American life, one I was surprised to learn only recently is this: the highest suicide rate in the population is people 85 years old and up.
I always thought it was young people, teen-agers and college kids, who kill themselves. Of them I have said, “One thing goes wrong and they think it is the end of their world.” But no; it is the elderly. Everything is going wrong and they know it is the end of the world as they have experienced it until now.
The residents here have concluded that a chaplain should be a member of the staff, not a clergy person who comes in just to conduct a religious service. While that is good, an elderly community needs a chaplain who works by forming relationships.
The full piece is available at her site at http://www.francesfullerauthor.com.
Frances Fuller’s book is unique among the many books on aging, because it is personal, while most such books are written from an academic point of view. Most are penned by sociologists, doctors, gerontologists, even the CEO of AARP, and one by a Catholic nun, Joan Chittister. Chittister’s book, ‘The Gift of Years’ is beautifully written, focusing on spiritual values and finding meaning in life. Chittister admits in the preface that she was only 70, which is the front edge of aging, and her book is somewhat abstract.
Atul Gawande’s book, ‘On Being Mortal’, relates medicine and old age, It enjoys high Amazon rankings, in the category of “the sociology of aging.” It contains a great deal of valuable scientific information and shows understanding of the physical and emotional needs of the elderly.
Frances Fuller’s book, ‘Helping Yourself Grow Old, Things I Said To Myself When I Was Almost Ninety’, is an up-close and very personal encounter with aging. It is an uncontrived and firsthand look at her own daily experiences: wrestling with physical limitations, grief, loneliness, fears, and the decisions she has made about how to cope with these and keep becoming a better person. She faces regrets and the need to forgive herself and others and is determined to live in a way that blesses her children and grandchildren.
Frances deals with many common, universal but sometimes private issues in an open, conversational tone. Her confessions and decisions invite self-searching and discussion. She tries to make sense of her own past and to understand her responsibility to younger generations. In the process she shares her daily life, enriched with memories from her fascinating experiences. Her stories and her voice — fresh, honest, irresistible — keep the reader eager for more. The end result is a book that helps create a detailed map through the challenging terrain of old age.
The result of this intimate narrative is that readers laugh, cry and identify with her mistakes and problems. Reviewers have called the book, “unique,” “honest,” “witty,” “poignant,” “challenging” and “life-changing.”
For these reasons it is a book unlike any other book on aging you will ever read. The book can serve as a primer on what lies in store for all of us, from someone who is working through many of these issues. While the book is a perfect fit for book clubs, there are many other individuals and groups who could benefit from the information and ideas in the book:
Those approaching retirement
People who are currently retired
Children of aging parents
Those who have lost a spouse
Retirement community discussion groups
Church groups (men and women)
and a host of others. For group discussions, Fuller has made a set of discussion questions available at her website at http://www.FrancesFullerAuthor.com.
Readers have lavished praise on the new book. One Amazon review stated, “I find myself thinking,’I need to read this again and take notes!’ It’s full of wisdom, humor, and grace. I also have committed to rereading it annually – it’s that important!” Another said, “There is valuable life experience in this book. Helping Yourself Grow Old is truly is a book for all ages, and one not to be missed.” Another stated, “Beautifully written book telling timeless truths, for both the old and the young. Highly recommend this book for anyone who loves to laugh, cry, and learn wisdom from someone who has lived so much life.”
Frances’ prior work, ‘In Borrowed Houses’, has taken three industry awards and has achieved Bestseller status. Frances Fuller was the Grand Prize winner in the 2015 ’50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading’ Book Awards. It received the bronze medal for memoir in the Illumination Book Awards in 2014. Northern California Publishers and Authors annually gives awards for literature produced by residents of the area. In 2015 ‘In Borrowed Houses’ received two prizes: Best Non-fiction and Best Cover.
Critics have also praised ‘In Borrowed Houses.’ A judge in the 22nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards called ‘In Borrowed Houses’ ” . . a well written book full of compassion . . . a captivating story . . . “. Another reviewer described the book as “Wise, honest, sensitive, funny, heart-wrenching . . .”. Colin Chapman, lecturer in Islamic Studies at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut said, ” . . . western Christians and Middle Eastern Christians need to read this story…full of remarkable perceptiveness and genuine hope.”
Frances has shared stories about her life in an interview with Women Over 70, and a recording is available on their Facebook page.
Frances Fuller is available for media interviews and can be reached using the information below or by email at [email protected]. The full text of her latest article is available at her website. Fuller’s book is available at Amazon and other book retailers. A free e-book sample from ‘In Borrowed Houses’ is available at http://www.payhip.com/francesfuller. Frances Fuller also blogs on other issues relating to the Middle East on her website at http://www.inborrowedhouseslebanon.com.
About Frances Fuller:
Frances Fuller spent thirty years in the violent Middle East and for twenty-four of those years was the director of a Christian publishing program with offices in Lebanon. While leading the development of spiritual books in the Arabic language, she survived long years of civil war and invasions.
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