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Q My elderly father and I are having difficulty deciding whether he should move to a nursing home. What are the things we need to consider?

A I suggest that you make a list of all the needs your father has. Some needs to consider are the following:

  • Diet
  • Personal hygiene
  • Housekeeping
  • Access to friends and activities
  • Administration of medications
  • Transportation to events, doctor’ appointments, shopping, and so forth
  • Church

Most cities have geriatric assessment programs to assist in defining needs and should be accessed in conjunction with your father’s physician. Does your father’s present living arrangement, with or without professional home-care services, meet his needs? If not, a move to a nursing home or other care facility may be the best way to provide optimal care for him. Only so much can be done at home. It may also be wise to ask a trusted friend, pastor, or elder for advice.

Once the needs have been agreed on, family feelings of guilt or inadequacy should not stand in the way of providing the best care. Keep in mind that if your father is of sound mind, he has the right to make the final decision.

If you delay this decision for too long, you may face an emergency, with your father hospitalized and unable to go back home. Care arranged in a crisis is rarely optimum.

—Herman Borkent

Dr. Herman Borkent practices medicine atMisericordia Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta.


Q Our 16-year-old has saved a substantial amount of money over the past few years. She would like to buy her own computer and have it installed, with Internet connection, in her own room. Should we let her?

A Personal computers have brought teens and parents a whole new level of contact with the outside world to learn about, manage, and enjoy within the family context. It is important for parents to help their teens navigate the Web, which can be difficult when parents are sometimes less computer savvy than their teens. Nevertheless, the dangers and temptations inherent in this powerful communication medium are real—identity thieves, sexual predators, temptations to get involved in online betting, and pornography have all claimed their victims, with teens often more vulnerable than adults because of age and limited life experience.

In the same way parents monitor and limit their young children’s exposure to TV, parents do well to monitor and limit their older children’s and teens’ exposure to the Internet. One important way to accomplish such monitoring is by having the family computer installed in a common area such as a dining room or family den.

Ordinarily it would not be wise to allow your teen to have her own computer in her bedroom, where monitoring becomes difficult. However, if you are contemplating giving her what she asks for, do consider the following: What are your daughter’s reasons for wanting a computer in her bedroom? Do her reasons make sense? Does your relationship with her include open and honest communication? Do you consider your teenager to be mature? Is she part of a positive friendship group, and do you know her friends? Is she a responsible student with the ability to manage her time well? Rules for computer use should enhance your teen’s safety as well as her learning.

Remember that as parents you are the executives of the family and as such have both the right and the responsibility to create good rules for family interactions, including your children’s interactions in cyberspace.

—Judy Cook

Judy Cook is a family therapist and clinicaldirector of Salem Christian Counseling Services, Hamilton, Ontario.


Q I’m on council and just found out that our pastor intends to have his personal financial advisor present at the elders’ meeting when we decide his salary increase for next year. Is that appropriate?

A No, it’s certainly not appropriate.

Ministers need to be content with whatever their council wants to pay them. There’s altogether too much concern shown by pastors about such worldly matters. They should heed Hezekiah 3:16-20, which emphasizes that shepherds can fleece their sheep yearly, but they can skin them only once.

—Hendrik De Boer

Dr. Hendrik De Boer is professor of church polity at John Calvin Theological College, Grand Rapids, Mich.

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