Caregiving for a New Generation

By Rev. Dr. Bobbie McKay  •  February 29, 2024

Generally speaking, there are three kinds of caretaking situations: (1) Those which occur within the family structure; (2) Those occasions outside the family structure; and (3) Those occasions outside the family structure between people not related by familial connections but connected because of special needs for care.

In those categories of caregiving, the results will vary according to the success of the care taking relationship. If my caregiver and I are finding our relationship to be a positive experience, we are likely to want that relationship to continue as long as we find it helpful. We may even develop new interests to create additional bonds between us.

The Importance of Trust

When we are experiencing a caretaking situation within the family, the situation is clearly affected by the quality of our relationship prior to the need for caretaking. If trust has already been established, it is likely to continue unless evidence appears to the contrary.

Trust is always built on a foundation of honesty and consistency. If basic trust is not established and understood, the relationship will miss the opportunity to discover the gift of trust in the lives of the members of the family. Trust is essential in every growth situation and requires a re-examination whenever new tasks are begun.

Recently, in my family, we entered a new situation that required a re-examination of the issue of trust as a key ingredient in our family living situation. I am ninety-three years of age and living alone in a one-bedroom apartment, in an independent living situation in a facility for seniors in our community.

I have found the experience to be quite pleasurable and with the addition of new friendships, I am remarkably content with my new life and its multiple opportunities for new learning and new friends.

I do not live with or near any of my children, grandchildren or great grandchildren. Our relationships are now part of a system of emails, and zoom messages mixed with other kinds of electronic activities. We are a part of this new electronic age which encourages contact and courage mixed with love and affection.

But recently, the issue of my traveling to visit other members of the family became a topic of strong disagreement. One of my grandsons was getting married and I was immediately drawn into the specialness of this wedding and my excitement in sharing this intimate and wonderful occasion.

The Decision-Making Question

But questions appeared immediately. What if I became ill while I was away from home and required a medical intervention? Who would make those decisions? Should I cease making decisions on my own behalf and trust my children to make them for me? Wouldn’t I be introducing a strong element of risk into the family if I persisted in wanting to travel on my own? At what age, could I be relied on to know what was “best” for me?

Do I now need a traveling “companion” instead of relying on my abilities to navigate my own life and reach the destinations I choose?

Am I being selfish in my wishes to do what I want? And, in fact, one of my grandchildren recently dis-invited me to his wedding because my desire to come to the wedding introduced too much risk into the situation. What if I became ill? The wedding could be terribly disrupted or ruined.

New Ground Rules

As we opened this issue of what I should be “allowed” to do, it became clear we had to create some new “ground rules” for family occasions that would keep us as “friends” and not as uncomfortable relatives in a situation that seemed to have powerful complications.

And then my younger son discovered a wonderful way to “think out of the box” and everything changed! After all the grandparents were “disinvited” from the wedding of two of their grandchildren, my youngest son came to me with a plan! “Next week, save Tuesday at 2:30…I’ll let you know what we’ll be doing.”

I had no idea what his plan was, but I knew his heart was in the right place! At the appointed time, he directed me to my computer and the channel I needed to locate and there was the video of the wedding I never attended.

The camera and the photographer focused on telling the “story” of the wedding: the intimacy of vows spoken in the language of love and joy; closeups of faces filled with commitments of intimacy and pleasure.

From the vantage point of a few inches, I saw promises made in the presence and truth of love. Vows made from the intimacy of the camera, came to life in the reality of love shared and experienced.

I attended a special wedding through the heart of the son who brought it to me on a mission of love and truth.

We are human beings who thrive on human connections. In our interactions with each other we discover the richness of relationships.

In the complexity of life, we discover the reality of love. In the narrowness of our world, we find the breadth of wisdom. In trusting our heart’s information, we learn how powerful the spirit of love permeates every relationship and action.

We are creatures of the great creator who loves without reservation. We are the living spirit of God whose love knows no end.

Praise God! Fantastic God! Glorious God.



For Reflection (either individually or with a group)

Read the blog. Read it a second time, maybe reading it aloud or asking someone else to read it aloud so you can hear it with different intonation and emphases. Invite the Divine to open your heart to allow the light of new understanding to pierce the shadows of embedded assumptions, stereotypes, and ways of thinking so that you may live more abundantly. Then spend some time with the following questions together with anything or anyone who helps you reflect more deeply.


  • How have you had to re-consider the question of trust within your family or community context? How did you handle it?
  • As you have aged, have you disagreed with family members about what you should be “allowed” to do? How did you talk about it?
  • As you have aged, how have your ideas about a loving God changed?


Download a pdf including the Reflection Questions to share and discuss with friends, family, or members of your faith community small group.


Blog: Copyright 2024, Rev. Dr. Bobbie McKay, All Rights Reserved. Photo designed by Freepik.

About the Author

Rev. Dr. Bobbie McKay

Rev. Bobbie McKay, Ph.D., is a UCC minister, author and licensed psychologist. Rev. McKay cocreated the Spiritual Health Center, NFP, and conducted a research study on spiritual life in the United Church of Christ. Based on the findings of this study, Spiritual Life Teams were born, and the study has been extended to the Episcopal church, the Catholic church and the Reform Jewish Community in the greater Chicago area as well as to Islamic populations in New York, Illinois and Florida. Rev. McKay currently works as pastoral associate in Spiritual Life at Glenview Community Church in Glenview, Illinois.

View all articles by Rev. Dr. Bobbie McKay