A note about resources suggested within our Action Plan to help faith and community leaders serve families facing dementia: Many of these resources are provided free on this web site. We also reference other helpful resources that are available for purchase only from outside vendors. For clarification purposes, those resources will be preceded in this Action Plan by a dollar sign ($). Our Ministry receives no benefits from such sales.
How do we minister to the spirit of those who live with dementia?
Reverend Hal Cole is a former Hospice Chaplain, currently serving as Support Group Facilitator, Grief Specialist, and Director of Spiritual Care at a long term care community. Hal spends his life ministering to those who live with dementia and to their families. He will help us see and hear and love more deeply.
How do we better love people living with dementia?
Reverend Linn Possell loved her mother through Frontotemporal Dementia. For 15 years she has passionately and compassionately shared her extensive dementia knowledge and experience to help those who live with dementia and their families. She is a trainer, coach, consultant and speaker for Positive Approach to Care.
Caregivers tell us that as dementia progresses, life long friends, family, and even ministers no longer visit. People who have been faithful members of the church are left in crushing loneliness and isolation. How can that be?
Break the stigma associated with dementia by raising dementia awareness and knowledge throughout your church and community:
The GA Division of Aging Services recently received a license to provide Dementia Friends information sessions in Georgia. Dementia Friends Champions are trained to provide these sessions. The sessions last 1 hour. Dementia Friends is part of a global movement that is changing the way people think, act, and talk about dementia. The Georgia Gerontology Society is assisting with training champions and getting the word out.
Caregivers have taught me that a key to surviving the caregiving journey is realizing there are others who are living their lives. There is power in being with those who understand. Support Groups offer this power. They offer help, hope and a particular healing that comes only from sharing and contributing to the healing of others.
Host the event yourself, or join forces with other churches to make ministering to these families a combined...even ecumenical...effort. You may also take this opportunity to co-host events with community leaders and organizations.
Volunteers have an opportunity to bring music, art, poetry, or song to persons living with dementia. Familiar music, poetry and prayer often can be enjoyed throughout the entire journey.
You might begin a choir for those who live with dementia or encourage their participation in the existing choir. The choir below features singers with dementia. For people with memory loss, choirs offer powerful stimulation and enhanced social connections.
Members might choose a personal ministry by sharing their musical talent with a person living with dementia...singing with that person or playing a musical instrument.
Nancy's Mama - Hospice Therapy
Even those who can no longer communicate verbally, may join in as you sing familiar songs, clap along to the rhythm or recite familiar, poetry or prayers...as seen in the video of music therapist, Naomi Feil and Gladys Wilson.
Volunteers might offer art lessons to persons living with dementia. It was a volunteer who introduced Lester Potts to a paint brush and paper. Lester, who lived with dementia and could no longer communicate with words began to tell us his story through his art.
A stole or tallit can be liturgical art. This ministry encourages your pastor, chaplain, priest, or rabbi to use liturgical art in promoting dementia friendly faith communities. In her book, Stolen Memories: An Alzheimer’s Stole Ministry & Tallit Initiative, Lynda Everman offers step by step instructions and describes the use of hand-sewn, individualized stoles and stole-style tallitot in advocacy for Alzheimer's and related dementias … but in the words of (Ret.) Bishop Kenneth L. Carder, author of Ministry with the Forgotten, Stolen Memories “is more than a creative book; it is an invitation to join a movement to bring hope and healing to people stigmatized and marginalized by society.”
Rev. Ann Mann, Associate Pastor with Dr. David Campbell, Senior Pastor, Due West UMC
Rev. Derek Jacks and Rev. Sherrad Hayes, Cumberland Presbyterian
Rev. Dr. Donovan Drake, Presbyterian (USA)
Rev. Dr. Richard L. Morgan (to whom the book is dedicated), Presbyterian (USA)
Rev. Bobby Fields, Jr., Baptist
Rev. Katie Gilbert, Cooperative Baptist
Rev. Kathy Fogg Berry, Interdenominational Christian
Rev. Tracey Lind (living with frontotemporal degeneration), Episcopalian
Rev. Danielle Thompson, Episcopalian
Rabbi Israel de la Piedra, Jewish
Monsignor Paul Fitzmaurice, Roman Catholic
Rev. Julie Conrady, Unitarian Universalist
Rev. David Saunders, Anglican with Rev. Dr. Cynthia Huling Hummel (living with dementia), Presbyterian (USA)
Rev. Dr. David Seymour, Lutheran
Rev. Carol Steinbrecher, Congregational
To help these families know that they are not alone. Encourage dementia training and education along with traditional Stephen Ministry training. A Stephen Ministry equips lay people to offer members of their congregation and community: prayer, support, encouragement, and a compassionate listening ear for as long as there is a need. A Stephen Ministry also offers vital support to the pastoral team.
Begin a Congregational Respite Program – a Respite Ministry or join forces with other churches to provide a spiritually integrated program offering meaningful activities, social engagement, art, music and exercise for those living with dementia. This also provides a much needed respite for the caregiver.
Why Congregational Respite Care?
Robin Dill enlightens us all! Robin served for twelve years as Director of Grace Arbor, a congregational respite program at First United Methodist Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Today, Robin mentors other churches as they begin Respite Ministries of their own.