Title

A ministry of memory: Spiritual care for the older adult with dementia

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-1-2004

Abstract

The primary focus of research related to spiritual and ministry needs of older people, historically and in the present, has been on those whose cognitive abilities are only minimally impaired. The older adult with a dementia like Alzheimer's disease, however, has not received as much attention. This may be related to a lack of any theoretical framework from which to understand what may be happening to a markedly confused person spiritually, and how a person with progressive cognitive impairment might still be able to maintain a relationship with God and be ministered to by a God who may only be remembered vaguely, if at all. Elderly persons with dementia with a faith background rooted in the Judeo-Christian worldview are often able to respond to various rituals of their faith, verbally, physically, and emotionally. Common practices like familiar prayers, Bible readings, hymns, and attendance at worship services where collective memory is shared can serve as memory joggers to reconnect the person, not only to the faith community, but to a faithful God. A spiritual care ministry to older people with dementia can be considered a ministry of memory. © 2004 Springer Publishing Company.

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