The past year has been incredibly challenging for all of us, but for those living with dementia and their carers it has posed a particular set of challenges.
Last year, the Alzheimer’s Society reported that a third of those living with dementia had experienced a sense of ‘giving up’ during the first lockdown, and that three in ten had gone for at least four days without having a significant conversation with others.
For carers and churches serving older people, knowing how to support those impacted by dementia can be incredibly difficult. That’s why we at Pilgrims’ Friend Society have relaunched our dementia information pack, Putting the pieces together, which is full of insight into dementia and related illnesses, and ways of supporting those living with the disease. As well as practical information, the pack centres on the spiritual well-being of those living with dementia, and those caring for them.
Written by Louise Morse, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and expert in dementia, Putting the pieces together is threaded through with scripture and the biblical principle that the person always remains – regardless of the cognition or capacity. The pack covers information and guidance at the point of diagnosis, support for the caregiver and ways to make the home safe for those living with dementia, understanding challenging behaviour and communication changes, and ways that the church can support those living with dementia and their circle of support.
Louise says, “When dementia comes into your life you need all the information you can get – but you don’t have time to read a book about it. Secular advice springs from the understanding that we are simply the sum of our parts, but within a Christian context we see that we are eternal spirit beings in human bodies.”
At Pilgrims’ Friend Society we’ve been supporting older people to live well in their later years for more than 200 years. We’re committed to seeing people flourish into their very last days, including those who are living with dementia. We know from experience that the person, beloved and created by God, always remains and, even once dementia has taken hold, that person can walk with God and continue on their faith journey.
One daughter shared with us that her father withdrew as his dementia took hold and became completely silent. Then during a visit towards the end of his life he spoke again, sharing that in his silent months God had been speaking to him, reminding him that the “steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down for the Lord upholds him with His hand” from Psalm 37. Though bodies may fail, the spirit of the person always remains alive and can be reached by God.
The Putting the pieces together pack is £12 and can be purchased at www.pilgrimsfriend.org.uk/dementiainformationpack, or call 0300 303 1403 to order a copy.