What Would You Do?

Monday, January 28th, 2019

Gail is an 82-year-old volunteer at your church. She’s always been upbeat and independent. Her husband recently died, and she now lives with her adult son. As a member of the church staff who has known Gail for years, you start to notice changes in her. Her attendance at church events has gone down and she seems to be very dependent on her son, who appears to control her schedule. He always appears angry when he brings her to church, and Gail seems to spend a lot of time alone. She also seems sad and withdrawn. The thought has crossed your mind that Gail’s son might be neglectful toward her. What do you do?

It’s always good to trust your instincts when something doesn’t seem right. First, you want to make sure that you don’t confront the son about your suspicions. You don’t want to create a difficult situation for Gail. Instead, speak with your pastor or other church leader who may be able to get more information from Gail in a pastoral care setting. If the situation worsens, consider contacting the Adult Protective Services agency in your state or local government to report your concerns. With the help of other church members, do your best to facilitate rides for her to church events and help reconnect Gail with the church activities she once enjoyed.