September is World Alzheimer’s Month

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia. Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a group of symptoms.

  • 55 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
  • More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 13 million.
  • 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. It kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
  • People age 65 and older survive an average of four to eight years after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, yet some live as long as 20 years with Alzheimer’s. This reflects the slow, uncertain progression of the disease.

Dementia diseases present a crisis of faith for many family members and congregations.

How do we, caregivers, friends, and pastors, minister to people with dementia?

The Rev. Jared Wortman has spent a lot of time thinking and praying about how to minister to people who suffer memory loss, writing his PhD dissertation on the subject. Below is a fascinating video – only 22-minutes long – in which he speaks about how to spiritually support and nurture people suffering with dementia diseases. We invite you to watch it, it is worth your time!

A summary of Dr. Wortman’s thesis, Re-membering Who We Are: Congregational Care in the Face of Dementia, 
is on Scholarblogs.emory.edu how to spiritually support and nurture people suffering with dementia diseases.

Dr. Fayron Epps to speak at the September Prayer Breakfast Hosted by Christian City for Pastors

Dr. Epps is the Principal Investigator of the Faith Village Research Lab and an Assistant Professor at Emory University, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. Dr. Epps works closely with an interdisciplinary team to promote quality of life for African Americans living with dementia and their family caregivers/care partners through self-care and meaningful activities. Dr. Epps is also the founder of Alter, the only nurse-led dementia-friendly initiative to support African American congregations.

Click the link below for more about the Alter program, which was founded by Dr. Epps, to support congregations in realizing the needs of dementia patients and the role their faith community can play to help them.

Resources, Programs, and Information

Due West United Methodist Church, Marietta, GA

Ministering to Families Facing Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias: How Do We Begin?
article on national church website, highlights the program at Due West United Methodist Church, Marietta, GA.

From the Faith & Leadership website, another article on the ministry at Due West Church: Dementia ministry in Georgia serves as a model for churches to care for the caregivers

Respite Care Atlanta

Respite Care Atlanta (RCA) is a great example of how congregations can come together to do big things. Nine supporting congregations in Atlanta launched this inter-faith day-program which provides spiritually integrated respite care for adults with cognitive challenges. RCA offers an environment for intellectual stimulation, physical exercise and meaningful connections, with support for caregivers through information and community resources.

Dad’s Got Dementia

In 2010, William Chatmon, longtime first elder of Berean Church in Atlanta, Ga., was diagnosed with vascular dementia. This disease progressed from bouts of forgetfulness and confusion to physical and cognitive impairment. With the support of a loving wife and devoted children, Chatmon began the difficult journey that dementia brings.

The Playlist of Your Life

Before your loved one is unable to remember the things they like or don’t like, the things that give comfort and joy, collect the information! This PDF, was developed by a minister in the early stages of memory loss and is helpful in preparing to care for a loved one with dementia.

Books

Ministry with the Forgotten: Dementia through a Spiritual Lens by Kenneth Carder

Carder continues to write about spirituality and dementia on his blog: Shifting Margins