Not every individual who has dementia or cares for someone with dementia would consider themself a “spiritual” person. However, many people tell us that they have become more spiritual since the diagnosis. We also hear this from family caregivers who tell us they would be lost without a spiritual connection of some nature, even when they’ve never felt the need for it in the past.
That connection, regardless of one’s religion, can be of immense comfort, especially when navigating the tough days that are bound to come along after a diagnosis of dementia.
October 22-28 is Pastoral Care Week, a time to honor individuals who provide spiritual services and support for individuals living with dementia. It is also a good time to focus on the advantages that these spiritual programs can potentially bring to individuals in need and to those caring for them.
A paper published by the National Library of Medicine entitled “Spiritual Needs of Older Adults Living with Dementia: An Integrative Review” cites several potential benefits of spiritual activities for individuals with dementia:
- Helps to decrease levels of psychological stress, including depression.
- Maintains social interactions.
- Fosters a sense of connectedness to others.
- Provides a sense of meaning, hope, and connection to values, traditions, and established beliefs.
Helping individuals to connect with powers greater than themselves can bring perspective and greater meaning into their lives as well as comfort on difficult days.
At our Anthem Memory Care communities, we have developed many wonderful relationships with our local churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, and other religious organizations. We have deep respect and appreciation for members of clergy who visit our residents on a regular basis. We understand how important spiritual connection is, not only for residents but for their families.
If you are caring for a loved one with dementia, Golden Carers has created a list of spiritual activities you can enjoy with them. Some of these activities include:
- Listen to their favorite hymns or spiritual songs.
- Create a prayer altar or shrine.
- Read poems or passages from their religious books.
- Listen to or watch spiritual programs.
- Attend local religious gatherings or services together.
The Alzheimer’s Association has published a list of resources that includes articles and books on spiritual topics for individuals with Alzheimer’s and family caregivers. You can access the list here.