In the average congregation, women over the age of 65 make up the majority of the membership, yet women are noticeably absent in the literature and training in pastoral care and counseling. They outnumber men in the general United States population by over 40 percent but are under-represented in genealogical studies and they disappear from the media, depicting few positive images of older women in television, movies, and advertisement. In an indepth study of women over the age of 65, Karen Scheib asked women how they feel they are perceived in their church. Their answer was “invisible.” Karen Scheib believes that invisibility results from social, political, and economic factors that provide the context in which older women age. This social context is not neutral toward aging, but defines or constructs what it means to grow and to be old. Understanding the construction of older women’s invisibility in both church and society requires a perspective that moves beyond the individual experiences of aging to an analysis of the social forces that shape the
experience of aging in America. Scheib draws on her extensive research, insights of gerontology, sociology, psychology, and anthropology, and her experience as a practical pastoral theologian to develop a new approach to pastoral care with older women, a pastoral approach to aging that takes into account the social context, as well as the individual
analysis, and theological reflection. She proposes a model of care and a set of practices that challenge women’s invisibility and assist congregations in being good places to grow old.