Ministering to people with dementia

This post describes our resources on ministering to people with dementia. Should you be interested in any of these resources, you can request them using this handy form.

JDCJulyAug2004Article: Spirituality, religion and faith in dementia care by Malcolm Goldsmith, Journal of Dementia Care 12(4), 2004

Despite the many definitions of ‘spirituality’, there is an increasingly united sense of its importance in dementia care. Malcolm Goldsmith reflects on what religious and spiritual ideas have to offer, and on relations between churches and people with dementia.

Note: should you be interested in this article please request it through our handy form.

spirituality and ageingBook: Spirituality and Ageing edited by Albert Jewell, 1999

This book presents the experience of ageing as an opportunity for spiritual reflection and affirmation of life. The contributors are religious and spiritual leaders and ethical thinkers from a range of different backgrounds. They define ‘spirituality’ not just as a religious concept but as the fulfillment of the universal human need for purpose, values and relationships – a sense of wholeness in life. This spiritual dimension helps people face the emotional and psychological challenges of growing older, such as memory loss, dementia, bereavement and fear of death. Existing systems of social care often focus on the material and physical needs of older people; this collection proposes that the spiritual needs for older people are as vital a consideration for their welfare. Through their spirituality, older people can attain a fuller appreciation and understanding of life, which can also inform and enrich the lives of others. Spirituality and Ageing will be an invaluable resource for carers looking for a holistic and more reflective approach to work with other people.

guideministeringalzheimerspatienBook: Guide to Ministering to Alzheimer’s Patients and Their Families, Pat Otwell, 2007

Guide to Ministering to Alzheimer’s Patients and Their Families examines the importance of spirituality in dealing with the everyday challenges of this mysterious disease. Not a “how-to” manual with step-by-step instructions or tried and true formulas, this unique book instead examines the essential elements of ministering to dementia patients based on first-hand accounts of family members living through pain and uncertainty. The book explores the nature and stages of Alzheimer’s: the desire to minister; theological understanding; grief and guilt; communicating with Alzheimer’s patients; spiritual needs and implications for spiritual care; ethical issues and the role of ministry in decision-making; models for ministry; faith, hope, and love; blessings; and resources. This book is designed for all who desire to minister to those affected by Alzheimer’s – especially pastors, priests, chaplains, pastoral counselors, church leaders, healthcare professionals, and seminary students.

JDCMayJune2003Article: Holding a religious service for people with dementia by Patricia Higgins, Journal of Dementia Care 11(3), May/June 2003

Patricia Higgins looks at how holding a religious ceremony can enrich life and well-being for people with dementia.

Note: should you be interested in this article please request it through our handy form.

ministeringpeoplewdementiaGuide: Ministering to people with dementia: a pastoral guide, Catholic Health Australia, 2008

inistering to People with Dementia: A Pastoral Guide , produced by Catholic Health Australia in cooperation with Alzheimer’s Australia is a practical handbook for the spiritual care of people with dementia. The Guide has been written expressly for those working in parish settings to assist in the provision of spiritual care of parishioners with dementia both at home and in residential care within the local community.

inastrangelandBook: In a strange land… : people with dementia and the local church : a guide and encouragement for ministry, Malcolm Goldsmith, 2004

About one person in twenty over the age of sixty-five and about one in five over the age of eighty have dementia. These people will have spouses, partners, children, relatives and friends. It is likely therefore that just about every church congregation and community will have a number of people affected, directly or indirectly, by dementia.

    • How do clergy and lay leaders, members of the congregation and others understand, relate to and support these people?
    • What happens to the faith of people with dementia? How do their carers cope with faith issues?
    • What happens when people move into residential or nursing homes or into hospital? What forms of ministry are appropriate?

This book, written by someone who has spent many years as a parish priest is full of reflections and suggestions. It is an attempt to guide and encourage people in this important but often neglected area of ministry.

Spirituality the heart of nursingBook: Spirituality : the heart of nursing edited by Professor Susan Ronaldson, foreword by Professor Mary Bailey, 1997

People in many cultures have long been aware of themselves as having a spirit as well as body and as being influenced by spiritual energies and spiritual presences.

Nurses know that something exists beyond the day-to-day care of people. Nurses are with people in time of crisis, when the mind turns to thoughts of what exists beyond. When a nurse can help someone to confront issues of doubt and belief, the sense of fulfillment explains why nurses do what they do.

This is a book to pick up and delve into. The chapters are written by experienced nurses in a style and language that is easy to understand. Here you will find knowledge and ideas that may help you make your own spiritual journey as well as helping people in your care to make theirs.

Spirituality:The Heart of Nursing is written by Australia nurses, from their own experience, for the benefit of other nurses. The message of the book is that nurses are special people conscious that our spiritual well-being is just as important as our physical health.

Still Alice

still alice movieIn January 2015 a film version of the book Still Alice by Lisa Genova was released. This film has received critical acclaim and to date, has won multiple awards.

If you’ve read Still Alice or seen the film you already know that it is a story of a psychology professor Alice Howland (played by Julianne Moore) who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The story describes her life from early warning signs, through diagnosis and then follows her progress through the onset of symptoms. It eloquently illustrates the impact of Alzheimer’s disease for Alice and for her family.

This post includes articles prompted by the release of the film Still Alice—reviews, commentaries and a podcast. It is not an exhaustive list, but rather a small sampler of the discussions initiated by Still Alice’s cinematic interpretation.

Remember, we have copies of the novel version of Still Alice in the Alzheimer’s Australia VIC library. Here’s a link to a review of the book on this blog – scroll down a bit, the review of Still Alice is lower on the page. You can contact us or come and visit us if you’d like to borrow a copy.

Once the film is released on DVD you will also be able to borrow a copy of the film from our library.

Article: Still Alice is ‘shockingly accurate’ – people living with dementia give their verdict, Tom Seymour, 11 February 2015, The Guardian

Julianne Moore is an Oscar favourite for her portrayal of a woman with dementia in Still Alice. But what do people with the condition think of the film?

megaphonePodcast: A review of the film Still Alice, panel discussion by Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation, Episode 25.

On January 29, Still Alice was released in Australian cinemas, a movie based on fictional character Alice Howland from her dementia diagnosis through to onset of symptoms. Throughout the movie Alice slowly but inevitably loses memory and connection with reality. She gradually loses the ability to follow a conversational thread, the story line of a book, or to recall information she heard just moments before. All common dementia symptoms. Many film critics are raving about Julianne Moore’s portrayal of Alice, and she has already won a Golden Globe award for best actress and is number 1 pick to win a prestigious Oscar. So what do others think of the movie, particularly those who are close to the cause and is the movie sending the right messages about ‘what is dementia?’ While the overall view of the movie is positive, some critics do say the film is overly “pristine” and “shies away from taking risks”, while also not being plausibly representative of the typical experience of dementia in choosing to focus on an “almost perfect … privileged family.” Others ask if it focuses enough on the latter stages, along with the impact placed on families and carers. In this special extended episode of the Dementia News I am pleased to have joining with me, three expert panellists, Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer (Griffith University), Dr Andrew Watt (Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health) and Jill Brown (Alzheimer’s Australia ACT), to give their views of the movie and discuss just how close to real life it is.

Article: ‘Hollywood’ movie sparks dementia conversation, DPS News

It is expected that a new Hollywood movie, starring a lineup of well known actors, will lead to greater awareness of the ‘enormous’ dementia challenge facing Australia, particularly those experiencing younger onset dementia.

the conversationArticle: Still Alice, and the advocacy for Alzheimer’s in fiction, Matthew Wade, 29 January 2015, The Conversation

Still Alice – starring Julianne Moore – tells the story of Alice Howland, a linguistics professor diagnosed with a form of early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Moore has already netted a Golden Globe and is clear favourite for a well-deserved Best Actress Oscar next month.

The novel on which the film is based is one of a clutch of debuts in recent years to explore forms of neurodegenerative disease. So what role does fiction play in our understanding, and acceptance, of dementia?…