“Even though I have been leading worship in a dementia specific facility for seven years, I was still able to learn something from the book. A truly wonderful resource!”
Frank, Aged Care Chaplain
This Handbook is an essential guide for anyone who leads Christian worship services and wants to review how well they are connecting with people who have dementia, as well as for newcomers to the field. It is ideal for visiting clergy, trainees, volunteers, pastoral carers and/or church communities who want to improve on how they care for people with dementia.
This is the first in a series of Handbooks that Meaningful Ageing Australia will develop to assist organisations and groups prepare and facilitate rituals that are meaningful to older people from a wide range of faith backgrounds.
“The Handbook is a brief, highly organised guide with excellent suggestions on how to provide important Christian spiritual support for people with dementia. There is no reason to assume that people diagnosed do not have the same spiritual desires and needs that they had in healthier days. Meaningful Ageing Australia offers sensitive, respectful, enlightened suggestions on conducting worship services so that people diagnosed can participate and enjoy the spiritual dimensions of life. I applaud their efforts wholeheartedly.”
Dr Steven R. Sabat, Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC USA
A pilot Dementia-Specific Church Service initiative commenced in January 2014 to provide pastoral and spiritual care to residents living with dementia. Previously these residents had attended regular church services but they did not appear to connect emotionally and spiritually with the service or others attending the service. The dementia specific service encourages residents living with dementia to actively participate and enables them to talk and connect with others, and God.
Promoting meaningful ageing
Empirical evidence suggests that older people who attend church receive more spiritual and emotional support compared to those who do not attend. However, dementia has an impact on a person’s ability to connect with God in the way they have in the past. Through music, singing, scripture and prayers delivered within a dementia specific church service, residents living with dementia are able to reignite their connection with God and are provided with the same spiritual and emotional support as those who are not cognitively impaired. The styles of church services are guided by what was meaningful to the person living with dementia in the past and enables them to live the flourishing and abundant life that all older people should enjoy.
Family members also attend the church services and have commented on the difference the services have made to their parents’ mood and spirit. Some staff and volunteers take part in the service and are supportive and respectful of this time. Additionally, there is a direct impact on most other residents and staff as they live or work within a social environment that is settled, happy and engaged.