Sequestered Seniors

By Dr. Ken Matto

Proverbs 16:31 (KJV) The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.

According to the excellent book by Cheryl Chumley, “Police State,” there are approximately 63 million senior citizens living in senior housing or retirement communities across America. One of the lures that is used to attract the seniors is that it is cheaper to live in these communities and as we age, we are unable to do what we did when we were younger such as shovel snow, handle heavy garbage cans, mowing the lawn, etc. Normally in a retirement community these things are done for you. I live in a retirement community in south central New Jersey and everything is basically done for us plus there are many things that seniors can partake of if they like bocce ball or crocheting or taking pictures. There are other activities that take place but basically most of them are designed for those who are limited by age or impediment.

One of the dictionary terms for sequester is: “To sequester one's self, to separate one's self from society; to withdraw or retire; to seclude one's self for the sake of privacy or solitude; as, to sequester one's self from action.” - Taken from the 1828 Webster Dictionary. One of the principles involved in retirement communities is that one leave their family and separate from them and move to one of these communities. In this article, I want to show that this is not such a noble plan for the seniors and will have a ripple effect on the families they leave behind. The word “hoary” in our verse above carries with it the meaning of “gray hairs.” In other words, it speaks about a person who has aged to the point that their hair has turned gray or even white. The verse states that it is a crown of glory if it is found in the way of righteousness or better, if it is attached to someone who has been saved for many years and has walked with the Lord. I personally believe that these retirement communities are a planned deception by Satan to remove godly influence and years of biblical living from subsequent generations and to allow them to decay in these retirement communities. I want to share some principles which I believe are very important, especially if one is planning to move to one of these places.

Unable to Pass Down Knowledge
When a senior leaves the home and family and moves to one of these places, that shuts off their ability to hand down many years of knowledge to the younger generation they could affect. One of the things seniors can help younger people with is how to handle money. Many seniors came through the Great Depression and learned the true value of money. Today the younger generation has no clue of the destructive nature of compounding interest and that is why so many have to file for bankruptcy. Those who have lived for a number of years, can pass down knowledge of other things such as marriage principles, raising children, how to repair things, etc. There is an African proverb which states, “When an old man or woman dies, a library burns down.” That is so true because seniors have walked many miles through this world and have faced many problems which can help those of future generations. The USA and some other countries are about the only ones who disregard the “library” they have easy access to and desire them to leave the premises. Some cultures like the Amish, will never remove their elders, instead they are valued members of the community handing down knowledge to the next generation. In fact, the elders become Elders which rule the community and look out for its well being. Seniors in a family setting can also be elders to help guide those younger ones and help prevent them from suffering undue hardship.

Unable to Pass Down Wisdom
Job 12:12 (KJV) With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.

Not only will seniors be unable to pass down knowledge but hand in hand with knowledge comes wisdom. It is not only good to have knowledge but to be able to apply wisdom to knowledge making it a great marriage. Many seniors have much wisdom to pass down to their family members, especially the young ones but if they are off in some retirement community miles away, they are unable to be involved in family matters and thus the younger ones may make grave mistakes, even the same mistakes many seniors made when they were younger and if they had consistent access to their families, they could help prevent any type of personal catastrophes, since they have personally been through it. If the seniors are unable to hand down wisdom, that means, the younger ones will probably grab for the wisdom of the world and get deeper into problems. Seniors should never be rejected for their advice because it may just be God’s way of helping you to avert a major problem.

Breaks Up Families
As I briefly touched on this point, seniors should remain a strategic part of their family as along as they can. We do not read in the Bible where men like Abraham were displaced by their children. He lived to be 175 years old and was still the head of his family when he died. It was the same with Isaac and Jacob, they were still the heads of their homes when they died. When seniors are sent packing or believe they should leave because they may feel in the way, they should be encouraged to stay and be assured that they are not in the way. They are the generation who helped build the present one their family is enjoying. In many cultures around the world, the elderly are always a main part of the nuclear family. It is only recent phenomenon that we are to sequester them in retirement communities. In the 1960’s only about 3 million were living in these communities but that has grown exponentially.

They Take The Useful and Turn Them Into Useless
If you have a woman who has raised children or a man who held a high position in business and then you send them to a retirement community to play bocce ball or crochet, then you have taken literally many years of useful living and turned them into a useless appendage just waiting for death. Seniors have much more value than watching TV from morning till night or hanging out at clubhouses. They were useful when they were with their families and felt part of that family and helped out but now that has been changed into useless activities which just waste the precious minutes as if time would never run out for them. Seniors should be tapped by the younger ones for their years of wisdom and should never be made to feel like they are in the way.

Unable to Train the Future Generations
Deuteronomy 31:14 (KJV) And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation.

Moses had led the people of Israel for forty years from Egypt to the point of crossing the Jordan. In the above verse, God calls Moses and tells him that the day of his death is near and that he needs to bring Joshua since it will be Joshua who will take the people into the promised land. Training the next generation is something which always needs to be done and it cannot be done if a senior is separated from their family by many miles. Moses was 120 years old when he died and many seniors do not even live to be 80 or 90 and that is why when they are pulled from their homes and sequestered in a retirement community, they will have very limited time and that time will be eaten up by useless activities when it could be put to use in training the future generations, whether it be Christian living, work ethics, raising children, handling money, etc. They could help those who are in their presence and this will also have a ripple effect whereby those who have been properly trained can pass along what they have learned to others. It will be a sad day when the TV trains each generation, unfortunately that is what is happening.

Unable to Pass on Morals
One of the things which is missing in society is morality. This is because young people are being trained by TV and other negative influences on society. Seniors can help pass along what they have learned through their lifetimes and it could counter the amoral beliefs coming across the TV. The seniors have an advantage that they could go into detail with their advice where the TV stops. On TV drinking alcohol has no consequences. In real life it has many from drunkenness to death on the highway. On TV everyone is sleeping with everyone and there is no consequences for it. In real life there is divorce, spousal reprisal, and sexually transmitted diseases which can lead to death. So if we allow the TV to train the next generation on morals, the country will go deeper into sin and the judging hand of God will get heavier.

Long Church Memberships Ended
Many seniors have attended the same church for many years and have weathered the ups and downs of those many years. Now they are at the point where they could bring stability to an other wise changing church, so instead of being there, they move many miles away to a retirement community. They may join another church but they will be new members and unable to offer advice like they could have in the church they left behind. This is like taking a scissor and cutting off a piece of a very expensive material. Their church family needs them as much as their birth family because they need to also train those in the church as the next generation.

Witnessing to Family Members is Severely Limited
I can guarantee you that when Abraham had Isaac, he sat with him and told him all the things that God did for him from bringing him out of Mesopotamia to the present. I am sure that Isaac and Jacob did the same thing with their children and grandchildren. When seniors move out of the house to go to a retirement community, their communication with their family is limited and then when contact is made, it is for a short time so there would be no time for a gospel witness. It would just be quick business and that would be it. The grand children will be trained by their schools and friends meaning it will be anti-God but when they are sat down and their seniors tell them how God has brought them through certain situations and how God guided them, it would challenge the atheism coming from the godless schools.

Activities Have No Eternal Value
As Christians, we need to view our lives in the light of eternity. Sitting around watching TV, going on hikes, playing bocce ball or shuffleboard may be okay to kill time but they have no eternal value for the Christians. When seniors are with their families and church families, what they do can count for eternity. The seniors can teach the Bible to the younger ones and this will open the door for them to study on their own as well. I am not saying that taking a vacation or playing shuffleboard is wrong but if that becomes a steady diet and the spiritual life is suffering, then a radical change must take place. It is a shame that many seniors are subjected to that kind of life because time will eventually run out and if they have a few moments to reflect, they will realize their lives counted for nothing from the time they left their families. Psalms 90:12 (KJV) So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. The seniors must learn how to number their days and pass that on to the younger ones since the clock is ticking on them too.

Unable to help or Get Help From family Members
When a senior moves away, they would be unable to help family members if a crisis arose since they would be miles away. The same situation is if they needed help, they would not be able to get help in their time of need. The retirement community I live in, many of the people are in their own private world and could not be bothered about others. Don’t believe those signs where everyone is smiling and all looks good. The reality is that most of these retirement communities are just cemeteries for the living.

Now for the next few points, I want to give the realities of what happens to personalities when they are around people of the same age group. It can actually have a debilitating effect on a person.

Increased STD
Here is a reality that among seniors, especially in these retirement communities there is an increase in sexual activity bringing an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. According to a CBS News Article run February 6, 2012, it states that STDs among the 50-90 year olds have doubled in the past decade.

The Link - 

This is due to the fact that many seniors come to these places in hopes to find a mate or another mate. The problem is that instead of going out, they stay in and sleep with each other and then they continue that lifestyle among the divorced, widowed, or just singles not out to marry but to “hook up.” Seniors get to the point where they cannot control themselves so they go out on the hunt. If they were still home with their families, this problem would be way smaller because there would be an embarrassment if they got caught. In these retirement communities, there is no one who will tell them they are wrong. Sometimes just plain boredom with a TV giving advice could propel even someone who has been morally stable all their life.

Increased Complaining
Have you ever been around a bunch of seniors who got together. It is not long before the conversation turns to chronic complaining. If they are not complaining about Social Security, they are complaining about their aches and pains. Then it is not to long before you get the update on who died the night before. These complaint conversations can bring you down and depress you very fast. This is why so many seniors are so ornery, because all they hear is complaints from others and it affects their personality. If a senior with a good personality moves to one of these places, within a year you would not want to be around them when they start talking because you know what’s coming.

Boredom or Loneliness
One of the main tenets of living in a retirement community and far from your family is the fact that you will eventually face boredom and loneliness. Many who have led full lives and come to these places will soon find out that the activities and even the social life is very depressing. Many seniors become lonely because they don’t seem to fit in with cliques already formed. Loneliness is also one of the reasons that people in these places jump from bed to bed. It is not always because they are seeking to swing, but sometimes they allow their loneliness to overtake them. If they were back with their families, they would not have the problems of seeking a bed partner and would not even think of it because they would know that the testimony of their lives to the younger ones would be ruined. Loneliness can also lead to suicide if it is allowed to overtake a person. These retirement communities are not all cracked up to be what they are advertised to be.

Your Past Is Your Glory
How many times have you ever hear seniors talk and it is always about the past?  There seems to be nothing to live for at the present because their past is their glory. This should not be because as long as the Lord still gives a person breath, they can still do things for the Lord, maybe at a lesser pace, but nevertheless ministry can be done. I remember working at a ministry and all they ever spoke of was the past. Joshua 14:10 (KJV) And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. Notice the principle that Caleb is giving. He was 85 years old at this point and he stated that the Lord has kept him alive all these years. This means that as long as the Lord has given a person breath, they still have purpose in this life and that means that purpose is looking forward and not backward.

Nothing to Look Forward To
On the heels of someone seeing their past as their glory, some seniors may feel like there is nothing to look forward to. They may get up each morning, eat breakfast, go out for a walk and then come back home and then believe there is nothing to look forward to. This type of mindset can lead to depression very quickly and in a depressed condition, they are susceptible to taking their own life. Most retirement communities have very limited activities and if a person cannot do those activities, they may adopt the mindset of why bother living if this is all there is. The reality is that a senior has to sit down and assess what they can and cannot do, and then try to live their life accordingly by finding things to do within their abilities. There is always something to look forward to if one plans their life and not some activity director.

Increased Sickness
When you factor in loneliness, depression, a feeling of worthlessness, separation from family, and separation from long time friendships both in and out of the church, there will be an increase in sickness. Some may not feel like cooking or just plain don’t want to eat. If they were with their families, their health would be checked everyday but if someone feels very lonely, they may not live their lives with the desire to see the next day but will tolerate it. Whether the sickness is psychosomatic or real, it will be real to the person. Many seniors do not take care of themselves hygienically and that too can lead to all kinds of sickness which can be transferred to others.

Retirement communities are not always what they are advertised to be. Before one moves into one, they need to sit down with all their family members to see how it would affect them as well as the one who is leaving. While they may be cheaper to live in, the tradeoff from leaving a secure family may even be more expensive. Their testimony and years of wisdom which they can impart is valuable to a younger family and should not be taken for granted. If you have a senior in your house in pretty good health, then you still have a gem in your possession. Don’t put them out to pasture because they have much to offer you. Let us be like many cultures and revere the aged because they still have value and, like Caleb, the Lord has continued to give them breath, not just to play shuffleboard, but to help train the next generation.