Rodney Harrison knows something about the elderly and how to care for them. During the pandemic Harrison has worked to gain support for aging issues and has spoken with the Missouri Deputy Chief of Staff and Department of Health and Senior Services to advocate for residents of The Baptist Home where he serves as president.
Metro Voice has reported on ways to keep seniors in touch and studies show human touch and communication is central to their physical and mental health. Human interaction, it seems, is a key element to long life. That’s difficult with pandemic lockdowns of care facilities.
The Baptist Home serves the state’s elderly recognizes that the aging process encompasses not just the obvious physical changes, but also many social, emotional, mental, and spiritual changes as well. The Home has grown to four campuses located across the state with campuses at Arcadia Valley (Ironton), Ashland, Chillicothe, and Ozark. In addition, The Home provides nearly $2 million dollars each year in benevolent assistance to residents in long-term care who can no longer pay the full cost of their care.
Harrison was invited to a special luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City recently for a small group discussion regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the elderly.
At the meeting, Harrison addressed issues specifically related to the negative effects of isolation experienced by residents during the pandemic and advocated for enhanced guidelines for church and family visits.
“Governor Parson was very understanding of the challenges residents are facing and was well informed regarding the risks posed by the virus versus those caused by social isolation from family and churches” Harrison says.
The organization has offices in Jefferson City which allows focused access to state lawmakers. “It also makes available a network of Christian leaders who share a commitment to protecting the rights of distinctively Christian ministries such as The Baptist Home,” Harrison stated.
The mission of The Baptist Home includes advocating and caring for the aging “to the glory of God,” Harrison says. “At times, that includes advocating at the Capitol, but certainly at all times it means advocating through our prayers and petitions to the Lord.”
As the pandemic eases across the nation and the mortality rate plummets, the general population becomes less at risk. The state’s senior citizens, especially those with underlying health issues, remain at high risk.
The conversation between Harrison and the governor will likely not be the last as attention shifts to protecting senior communities as life returns to normal.
In an effort to provide insights into how to respond to aging issues in a Christlike manner, an educational resource section has been added to their website which provides a variety of aging related articles and videos for churches, families, and caregivers.
For more information, visit www.thebaptisthome.org/resources.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice