The Elderly in the Church

As I was putting the finishing touches on Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 16: The Elderly in the Church today, my Mom called right when I was getting into how you should honor and support your parents. I told her about the timing and she started to list somewhat jokingly, ways she would love to have that kind of support. One of them was call everyday. She doesn't actually want to talk to me everyday but she would like to hear from me more often even if it's a text that says, "Goodnight." We all like to know that there is someone out there thinking of us. So that's my goal for this next month- making sure my Mom knows just how much I love her. 

My Mom's health has never been great but in the last few years it has definitely gotten worse. Right now one of the problems is her elbows- it's bone on bone so it's really hard for her to bend her arms or put pressure on them. To top it off, she's trying to sell her house and store. It's really hard to box things up and sort through things when you arms don't work well. Of course, we went down to help her out when we could. I really stressed to the kids though that we weren't going down to ride horses and play at Grandma's store. We were going to be there to help her move and do whatever she asks. The kids were so good at it. They loved helping Grandma and had a ton of fun in the process. I don't think it takes much to help each other out but it does take a little planning and effort. 

Before I had children, I worked in a Retirement Center as the Activity Coordinator. I loved sitting with those elderly folks talking and learning. My job included finding those that never came out of their rooms and visiting with them. Those that couldn't leave their rooms on their own had a much harder time remembering the following:

Understandably so too. It's hard to see the good when you are stuck in one place with little to no company. What helps you remain positive? What can you do for those that are shut-in? How can they still contribute? I loved President Benson's 8 suggestions of things to do when you are older. Many of these can still be done even by those that have difficulties. 

There are certainly different challenges that accompany later years but there are an awful lot of blessings too. Some of my best friends in the ward are the older sisters because they are so kind, compassionate, and full wisdom. I love them! 

Teaching Ideas

  • Ask some elderly people ahead of time to give some words of wisdom. You may have a couple of specific questions in mind for them to answer or let them offer any piece of advice. Place their words on different pieces of paper and hang on the whiteboard. You can reference their wisdom throughout the lesson or play a "Who said it?" game.
  • Do a similar thing as above but ask for their testimony. Read them all at the end of your lesson or have those you asked read it.
  • Start an answer board before class starts. Greet a couple of sisters at the door and ask them to write something they love about their grandparents or similar figure on the board. When they are done, have them pass the marker on to someone else and so forth until class starts. At the beginning of your lesson you can highlight a few and probably more throughout. You could also do this with a Things You've Learned from a Grandparent theme.
  • Talk to the Compassionate Service Leader, Relief Society President, Elders Quorum President, or Bishop beforehand and find out which elderly people need help in the ward. Make a sign up to help or plan an activity with your activity board to help these people more often. Use with section 5 or 7.
  • Find someone that has been a caretaker of a parent or other elderly person. Have them share some experiences as well as what help their parent need and what help they really could have used themselves.
  • Ask some older people in your class to give a musical number.
  • Talk about ways you can prepare now to have a great life later...physically, spiritually, financially, emotionally, etc. 
  • Watch the Candy Bomber portion of "Meet the Mormons." He's still doing all kinds of good.

Click here to print the 2 handouts above in 2 sizes. If you like it, please pin it too!

Questions to Ponder

Looking for more resources and a better way to organize your lesson? Download the Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 16 Study Journal

  • In what ways have you benefited from the wisdom and experience of those older than you?
  • How can the suggestions in section 2 enrich your life no matter how old you are?
  • Why is the key to overcoming loneliness and feeling useless service? How have you seen this be true?
  • How can you remain positive and strong through illness? How can you be supportive of those going through it?
  • How can you honor the elderly? How can children and grandchildren honor their parents and grandparents?
  • How have you seen different generations enjoy each other's company? How can you build and nurture these types of relationships both individually and as a ward?
  • How do we as members and leaders of the church help meet the needs of the elderly? 
  • What examples do you have in your life of people faithfully enduring to the end?
  • What does it mean to you to experience  the full joys of gospel living? 

Study Guide

Head over to the Market to print out your Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 16 Study Journal. It's the best way to organize all your thoughts and grab a couple more handouts.


Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 16: The Elderly in the Church


Proverbs 20:29

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Isaiah 46:3-4

Luke 2:36-38

Ephesians 6:1-3

Titus 2:1-5

James 1:27

D&C 121:7-8

Watch:  To The Elderly of the Church (about 27 minutes) and We Need You (about 6 minutes)  


"In the Time of Old Age" by Sister Barbara B. Smith


"We Will Go with Our Young and with Our Old" by Brother Hugh W. Pinnock


"Honour Thy Father and Thy Mother" by Elder Dallin H. Oaks


"The Golden Years" by President Boyd K. Packer


"Appreciating the Counsel of Those Who Are Bowed in Years" by Brother Stephen B. Oveson

Need more ideas and help? Head over to our Private group, Chicken Scratch n Sniff Private to ask your questions and get more ideas.