In April I attended my elderly aunt’s funeral. Only I wasn’t there in person; I clicked on a link to access a webcam and watch the service. This is one of the many significant changes to life since the onset of the coronavirus crisis.

My mother and another aunt were both allowed to attend the funeral but they chose not to. My aunt has underlying health conditions and my mother was understandably anxious about the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the process of leaving the house.

Herein lies a distressing consequence of coronavirus: hundreds of thousands of older people with underlying health conditions have been advised by the Government to not leave their homes; and of those older people who are allowed’ to leave their homes, many do not want to because they’re anxious. 

No other demographic in this moment is the subject of such attention and associated with such great risk. On top of this, the desire to revive the economy has led to suggestions that younger people should be able to return to work, but the elderly’ (who of course are not one homogenous group) should stay quarantined until a vaccine is found.

Whilst this is a complex situation, there is a risk that we as a society are further increasing generational divides, and implying that those who are older are of less value. But isn’t it wonderful to know that older people are as precious to the Lord as anyone else? The Bible talks of the wisdom of older people – wisdom accumulated over a lifetime – and we are reminded in Psalm 92 that older believers still bear fruit in old age”. Church is beautifully intergenerational, and older Christians who have been faithfully following Jesus for many years are a powerful witness. 

Oh, how we all long to hear that we have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4). As the church of God, we are all called to serve and empower the vulnerable: Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:17). We know our God cares deeply and has a heart for justice. And we know that the elderly, often frail or widowed or both, need the church to mirror our Father’s heart for justice and be a loud voice for those whose voices need amplifying.

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the majority of vulnerable and at-risk groups are older, and often isolated, so what can Christians do to help them? Faith in Later Life and the Evangelical Alliance recently arranged a meeting for UK Christian care home providers, Christian denominational representatives, and some frontline workers who engage in ministry with older people.

We prayed, shared and planned, as we thought about how we as Christians can respond to the current pandemic. But whether in positions of leadership or not, we can all show society what faith, hope and love look like. We can be the hands and feet of the Lord Jesus to those around us who may be lonely or afraid or both. To help you respond to these needs, we at Faith in Later Life have written blogs and created resources covering a range of topics including anxiety and mental health, engaging with those who aren’t online, coronavirus and dementia, and supporting each other when we can’t physically attend a funeral (they’re available free of change on our website: faithin​later​life​.org).

Additionally, we have partnered with the Church of England and Holy Trinity Claygate to launch a national free phoneline, Daily Hope, for Christians and non-Christians, and particularly those who do not have internet, to connect, listen to hymns, and share in prayers and reflections (08008048044). We can all play our part. Do you know older people in your church or wider community? Why not give them a call today and find out how they are? You could tell them about Daily Hope or ask if they need any groceries. We’re living in extraordinary and difficult times, but we have a timeless God with a heart for justice, who calls us to plead the widow’s cause”.

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the majority of vulnerable and at-risk groups are older, and often isolated, so what can Christians do to help them?