Dementia Friendly Church
Dementia is "a word used to describe a group of symptoms including memory loss, confusion, mood changes and difficulty with day-to-day tasks."- Alzheimer's Research UK
We are an ageing society, it is expected that one in 12 will be aged over 80 by 2039*. For many, ageing will include the reality of dementia, either as a person living with or living alongside and supporting another with this condition.
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.
These combined symptoms often lead to a stigma and lack of understanding surrounding dementia that can result in isolation for those experiencing or caring for someone with the condition.
However, within a supportive community where the person's identity and unique needs are understood and supported, people affected by dementia can continue to lead rewarding and contributing lives.
A recent talk from Livability on Dementia Friendly Churches (click here for more details) said;
"The person is still there, you just need to find them"
The importance of maintaining a church that is still accessible to those experiencing dementia is great, but it does raise several questions and challenges such as;
- 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?
This page hopes to share a number of links and resources that can help you and your church to answer some of these questions and rise to the challenge.
Dementia Support Resources
Reminiscence resources are a way of connecting with those with dementia through the use of objects, sounds and smell to retrieve lost memories and awaken and activate the brain. The St Peter's College Resource Centre has a collection of six Reminiscence boxes available to borrow free of charge.
|Life Story Work||
Life story work is "an activity in which the person with dementia is supported by staff and family members to gather and review their past life events and build a personal biography". This process can be adapted to focus on a persons 'Faith Story'.
|Life Story Template||Dementia UK provides guidelines and a template for putting together 'Life Story' books.|
|Livability||Livability offers audits, training and mentorship services to Christians, Churches and other Christian organisations that will help them to provide dementia friendly practice.|
A new social enterprise aiming to bring together creative arts and meaningful moments for people living with dementia and their carers.
Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.
Dementia UK provides specialist dementia support for families through its Admiral Nurse service.
The Alzheimer's Society's mission is to transform the landscape of dementia forever. They strive to create a society where those affected by dementia are supported and accepted, able to live in their community without fear or prejudice.
|Alzheimer's Research UK||
The world’s leading dementia research charity dedicated to causes, diagnosis, prevention, treatment and cure. Uniting the big thinkers in the field and funding the innovative science that will deliver a cure.
A major charity for, with and about carers. Working to improve support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring, unpaid, for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems.
|Playlist for Life||Playlist for life is a charity that uses music to "transform the lives of people living with dementia and those who care for them." It draws upon scientific research to help people living with dementia to connect to their loved ones and carers.|
|Podcast - St John's Chapeltown||Often those experiencing dementia find it hard to attend regular services. Podcasts are an easy way to stay connected to the life of the church but in your own time and space. The St John's Chapeltown podcast is just one example, there are many more available on the internet.|
|Podcast - Sheffield Cathedral||Another example of an easily accessible podcast, this time from Sheffield Cathedral. Every Sunday service is recorded and made available as a podcast from the Cathedral website.|
|Third Age Resources||The third age is the period in life of active retirement or semi-retirement, following middle age. Our Third Age resources page aims to provide links to activities, books and information for this period of life.|
|Godly Play with Elders||Godly Play is being used with older people in a variety of care settings: nursing homes; residential care; retirement villages; lunch clubs; and with intergenerational groups. It is also used with people who are living with dementia.|
|Flag it Up||Flag it Up is an exercise from Livability that provides an invitation and opportunity for people to share examples of small, practical support for the carers of people living with dementia.|
|Top Tips from One Carer's Perspective||The 10 things a Church can do - in no priority order by Jacqui Goff, a carer of someone suffering from dementia. From Livability.|
|Exchanging The Gifts Exercise||Exchanging the gifts is an exercise, from Livability, that provides an invitation and opportunity for people to share examples of small, practical support for people living with dementia and their carers.|
|Dementia Working Group||The Diocese of Sheffield is a member of the Dementia Action Alliance. The working group resources parishes to look at the role they play in supporting people with dementia and their carers. Follow the link for more information.|
|Environmental Checklists For Public Spaces - Outside||These guidelines can be used by dementia service-user groups or to guide thinking re dementia friendly external environments.|
|Environmental Checklists For Public Spaces - Inside||These guidelines can be used by dementia service-user groups or to guide thinking re dementia friendly internal environments.|
|The Leveson Centre||
Lighting the Way: Spiritual and Religious Care for those with Dementia, a comprehensive booklet which gives a reading, hymn or song and ideas for a time of reflection for every week of the year following the Revised Common Lectionary.
|Sheffield Dementia Cafe - 2018||Some useful information from Alzheimer’s Society about Sheffield Dementia Cafes and support groups available in 2018.|
|Remember When Dementia Cafe||Offers an ambience, surroundings and activities to promote memories and conversations, particularly for people living with dementia and carers within the community.|
Much of this content describing the symptoms of dementia and the questions faced by churches has been taken from the Sheffield Diocese website. Further information, contact details, resources, events and good news stories related to the wider Sheffield Diocese Dementia Friendly Churches & Communities can be found on the Diocese website Click Here
Disclaimer: Whilst we are careful to distribute and recommend appropriate information and resources to benefit our members in their learning, the events publicised, news articles, downloaded resources such as documents, audio or video or on website links, do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of St Peter’s College or the Diocese of Sheffield.
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