INDIANAPOLIS – There is an incredible rise in older adult population everywhere in America and the church is behind the curve to meet the needs of this growing type of ministry. This is the critique of Kathy Pellman, executive director of Still Waters Adult Day Center at Castleton United Methodist Church in Indianapolis.

Pellman told Together in a recent interview “every church does children’s ministries, most do adult ministries, but few do older adult ministries.”

She went on to say that trend needs to be reversed if The United Methodist Church plans to meet the needs of its own and its community’s rising number of older adults.

Through an adult day center, Castleton UMC saw a rising need for a day center for seniors in its community. Such a center, Pellman said, “Expresses faith and values to other people in the community, raises an awareness of the church in the community through an older adult ministry.”

Adult-aged children, who desire to maintain their parents and other loved ones in a home environment, are the ones who use adult day center services. Most of the guests at Still Waters are between 80 and 85 years of age. Most should not be left alone. Most have some degree of dementia.

Pellman said of guests at Still Waters, “They can’t take medicine by themselves. They can’t be trusted even to make a meal alone. One-hundred percent of them have some level of depression due to lonely, isolated losses in life.

“Still Waters gives caregivers a level of breathing room from the needs and stresses of taking care of an older loved one. The care center gives these loved ones a chance to step back to plan finances, cope with legal issues, as well as help other family members in the decision-making process,” she said.

Still Waters has a quarter of a million dollar budget, which is completely separate from the church’s budget, however the church does provide space for the center.

It operates from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and has a capacity of 20 guests at any given time. The center has six paid full-time staff with benefits and is ready to hire two more paid full-time staff. The ratio of staff-to-guest is 5:1 and it provides services for seniors 11 hours a day with a progressive staff – small in morning, ballooning around noon and becoming smaller in the afternoon as older adults come and go from morning through afternoon.

Still Waters tries to maintain a 60 to 40 percent gender balance. Caregivers at the center work an average of nine hours a day with a half-day option. Currently, the Castleton center provides services to 30 older adults enrolled in the program.

Each day is filled with activities for seniors such as Bible study, table games, music, art and one-on-one experiences with volunteers.

The center has an informal relationship with the church, which supplies dozens of volunteers who provide time, supplies and food. “Volunteers find their service to the center to be meaningful activity,” Pellman said.

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“Such a center expresses faith and values to other people in the community and raises an awareness of the church in the community through an older adult ministry.”

– Kathy Pellman

Together photo

Art is part of senior adult therapy at Still Waters Adult Day Center.