November 13, 2016
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
As our society continues to age we hear more and more about the challenges of dementia. There are now about 5 million people living with Alzheimer’s in the United States today, and that number will grow. It has been called the Dementia Tsunami. Alzheimer’s disease is the most feared medical condition and there is still no cure. What starts as forgetfulness becomes increasing disability, disconnection, dependence and death.
Although we recognize the distress that Alzheimer’s and other dementias can cause, we sometimes forget the family members, friends and fellow church members who help carry the burdens of these diseases. Caregivers are far too often weary, overwhelmed and burdened by the physical, emotional and spiritual demands of providing care to those who are forgetful and confused. Many also feel that no one truly understands the challenges they face. People with dementia are loved by God, and it is incumbent upon the church community to support both the individual and the caregivers.
Here are ways that churches can help:
Be positive about what people with dementia can do rather than what they cannot do.
Support people with dementia in making choices. Give them time to choose between coffee and tea at the fellowship time, for example.
- Listen to what people with dementia are saying. Listen attentively so that they feel respected.
- Pay attention to body language. Sometimes you can read what people are saying in their faces or with gestures.
- Avoid correcting what people with dementia say. People with dementia often say things that are not accurate. Try to redirect or distract.
- Assume people with dementia know what you are saying. Talking about or “over” a person can be hurtful.
- Support people with dementia to worship. Large print bulletins and hymnals and using a finger to point to words in the hymnal may help the person to follow along. People remember the words and music of hymns long after other speech is gone.
- Show love to people with dementia. What better place to mirror God’s love than in the church community?
Joanie Friend, BSN, R.N., Faith Community Nurse, Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church/Member Presbyterian Health Network; PHEWA
Today’s Focus: Caregiver Sunday
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray
Gracious God, signs of Your love and mercy surround us even in the hardest times of our lives. As we care for one another, give us open hearts and minds to witness Your presence with us. Let our hope and comfort be found in You. Amen.
You may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.