Seniors of faith may have experienced one or more spiritual retreats in their lives. These often take place over a couple of days or a week. They bring together people of faith for fellowship, spiritual study, prayer and other activities designed to grow a person's relationship with God.
While no one is ever too old to enjoy such a retreat, the expense and physical requirements for traveling to and participating in these activities may be prohibitive for some older adults. There's a tendency for such activities to be held at camps, for example, where participants sleep in bunk beds or other similar options that aren't ideal for everyone.
The good news for seniors living in any of our Bethesda Senior Living Communities is that stay-at-home retreats are easy to arrange and enjoy. Whether you're looking for a private experience between you and God or you want to involve others in your plans, here are some ideas for fostering retreat-like events right in your assisted living community.
Decide how long you want your stay-at-home retreat to be and whether you want to concentrate on a specific theme. Options might include growing your faith, developing prayer or better engaging with the Christmas or Easter seasons. Choose a book or DVD series that addresses your theme and can be completed during your retreat time. Plan to read a certain amount each day or watch one or more of the series episodes to inform the rest of your retreat.
It's easy for life and other people's priorities to intervene on something you're doing if you aren't specific about your schedule. If you want to get the most out of your at-home retreat, make sure to schedule it like you would an actual retreat. Let friends and family know you aren't planning to take or return calls, don't schedule any other obligations and let the assisted living staff know what you're planning so they might support you in any way possible.
These types of retreats can be a solo affair or a group activity. If you want, invite friends in your assisted living community to join in. Let them know what your plans are and work out a schedule together for all the activities for your retreat. Make sure everyone has a copy of whatever book you might use, or plan to gather in your assisted living apartment or a community common room to watch any programming together.
While one of the main reasons to have a spiritual retreat is to ensure you spend time with God, you can also get a big benefit out of fellowship with like-minded individuals. Some activities you might plan to have during your retreat include coffee/tea and conversation about the messages you're receiving, recreational time that brings you all together for games or movement, times for walks outdoors and reflection and eating meals together. All our Bethesda Senior Living Communities offer dining and meal service, so that last one is easy to manage.
You might also invite speakers to share during the retreat. You can reach out to the assisted living chaplain, nearby churches or your fellow community residents. Speakers don't have to be formal; you might ask different friends to share a personal testimony or story relevant to the retreat theme each day.
Whatever your plans are for your stay-at-home retreat, make sure you keep the purpose of the activity at the forefront. Don't stress or try to cram in things that make you uncomfortable. Simply plan some time to enjoy getting closer to God.