Inside Out 309: Visit Nursing Homes

04.16.14 | Martha Manikas-Foster

A visit for as little as twenty minutes once a week can change the life of a nursing home resident, according to Ed Johns. And yes, “Angel Ed,” as his friends call him, is recruiting volunteers. As the Coordinator of the National Nursing Home Initiative for the Turn a Frown Around Foundation, Johns is encouraging individuals—and entire churches—to become “forever friends” to nursing home residents.

“We could all do this. There’s really nothing to it,” he says. “I have no special gift with this. You have to have the love in your heart for others. As soon as you walk into the nursing home, your heart is just going to melt.”

Almost one and a half million people live in nursing homes today, and many never receive a visitor. For instance, only 15 out of every 100 residents on an Alzheimer’s unit ever receive a guest, according to Johns.

I would never belittle your reasons for not visiting. It hurts when your mother doesn’t recognize you. It can be awkward when the person you visit asks to come home with you. But when we overcome our reservations, we often actually see the impact of our small investment.

“When I leave,” Johns says, “I feel so pumped up and so wonderful because I see their lives changing. I see people that have no hope at all—I mean no hope at all—smiling, laughing, communicating.”

But even if we never see how singing a hymn with a disabled man or holding an elderly woman’s hand changes their lives, I suggest that by visiting in a nursing home we serve Jesus. Of course He never specifically mentions nursing homes. But it’s in Matthew 25 that we hear Him saying that when we feed the hungry and clothe the naked and visit the prisoner, we feed and clothe and visit Him.

Just by visiting a nursing home we could relieve loneliness AND serve Jesus. What a great investment of twenty minutes a week.  

Click on the LISTEN or DOWNLOAD icon above to hear an enthusiastic Ed Johns talk about connecting with nursing home residents in our 18-minute conversation.

Learn more about how you and your church can become “forever friends” to nursing home residents at

Contact Ed by phone to talk about volunteering: (908) 454-8818


Your Comments(please keep them on topic and polite)

on 04.16.14 christine commented

What a wonderful initiative!:) I have lived next to a nursing home for the past 30 years and I always wondered how I could get involved, this has encouraged me to do so. I was a resident at a nursing home for a short time when I was recuperating from cancer so I know first hand how dismal it can be. I was only 58 years old during my stay and I thank GOD I was able to go home, others werent so blessed to do so.Thank You Ed for encouraging the broken hearted it is a lovely mission!

on 04.16.14 Martha commented

Thank you Christine for your perspective--and your enthusiasm about getting involved.

on 04.16.14 Angel Ed commented

Hi Christine,
Thank you for your kind words and I would love for you to join us and change some ones life. If you could please call me or send me your number to my email on the website. I will need to know the name of the nursing home by your house to see if they are with us. And then get you started. There is an app on our website that you will need to fill out for us.
And Thank you for helping us end loneliness in nursing homes one Forever Friend at a time.
Angel Ed 908 454 8818




Inside Out airs Wednesdays at 12:20pm EST during the Family Life Noon Report.


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