With the help of Dr Gemma Graham, a clinical psychologist, we developed excellent information for churches and carers as well as for people living with dementia.
Here you will find a range of resources giving an overview of what dementia is, how to build dementia-friendly churches and support the faith practices for people living with dementia and of those supporting them.
Introduction to Dementia
There are around 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, with rates predicted to rise. Although the likelihood of developing dementia increases with age, it is not an inevitable part of ageing, and it can also affect younger people. The label ‘dementia’ describes a range of symptoms that may develop over a number of years. This will usually include problems with memory; however, there are other common symptoms such as difficulties with concentrating, problem-solving, speech, perception or movement.
The gradual progression through dementia involves a series of losses in an individual’s mental abilities, which can make it increasingly hard to stay connected to the present moment, communicate one’s needs and maintain the activities that support spiritual well-being.
The slides below describe Ten Facts about Dementia (Alzheimer’s Research UK). Click on each slide to move through these facts.
The Bookcase Analogy
Below is a non-scientific explanation from the Alzheimer’s Society to understand how memories are stored in the brain, how these memories/feelings can be affected when dementia is involved and how your understanding of this can help you to support someone with dementia.
The different types of Dementia
There are many different types of dementia, with ‘Alzheimer’s disease’ being the most common. The Alzheimer’s Society have created a series of useful videos which briefly explain the different types of dementia.
The issues within dementia raise important questions for the church.
- How do we continue to share a fulfilling and meaningful Christian relationship when our friend no longer remembers our friendship?
- How can congregations welcome and include members with progressive memory loss who may feel overwhelmed by usual church activities?
- How can we support those who are isolated as they care for someone with dementia?
- How might we share the gospel and show the transforming love of Christ with those with dementia who have never known him before?
These questions are crucial to the mission and identity of the church. As John Mcfadden – author and retired UCC pastor, beautifully explains:
“As Christians we have a different story to tell about what gives our lives worth, value and meaning. Personhood is not defined solely by our corporal bodies or our cognitive abilities, but rather by our relationships with others. And we are creatures created in the divine image not because we physically or intellectually resemble the Almighty One, but because God remains in faithful relationship with us in all circumstances and conditions. God’s goodness can be experienced within the reality of cognitive loss….
Some question whether persons with dementia can continue to live their faith if they are no longer able to remember God. They can, because faith is not dependent upon individual memories or cognitive ability. If we should forget God, God will not forget us. And if we forget God, our community of faith can remember us to God and bring God’s presence into our lives through means that do not require us to grasp that presence cognitively.”John McFadden
Livability, offer a range of materials to assist churches in becoming dementia-friendly.
Links to other sites
The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms”
“Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you”
“I will never leave you or forsake you ”
Hebrews 13: 5-6
“Behold I am with you always, to the end of the age”
“If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me and your strength will support me ”
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present not the futures nor any powers, neither height nor depth (nor dementia) nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”
“The LORD is close to the broken-hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit”
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”
“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you”
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us”
1 John 5:14
“The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simple-hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me”
“In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help”
“For your Father knows what you need before you ask him”
“Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory ”
“Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”
Find local support services for people with dementia and their carers.
Local Dementia Action Alliances
An easy and proven structure for creating a dementia friendly community and is a group of people who have come together to create an local area alliance.
Local Alzheimer’s Societies
Find your local Alzheimer’s Society office using their map giving you all the necessary contact details.
Carer Resilience Rotherham
Crossroads Care offers a full range of services for all age groups, disabilities or health conditions at any time day or night.
A registered charity raising awareness and money for people in Doncaster affected by Dementia.
Barnsley Independent Alzheimer’s Dementia Support
BIADS is an organisation formed by Barnsley people to provide support to those who have any form of dementia and their families and friends.