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Speaking With The Elderly And Those With Dementia And Alzheimer’s

Tomorrow, I get to share in leading worship at a local residential home for people who cannot care for themselves due to age, dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. The service will be led by an Anglican Reader, and he has invited me to give a short talk in the service. He advised me to keep it short and simple.

In past times, such an invitation would have terrified me. I had no training in how to approach this, despite the ageing church profile and the general increase in the age profile of the wider population. However, the good news is that there is an increasing amount of Christian resources on the subject. Within my own denomination, Methodist Homes how provides specialist dementia care, plus resources for those who care for people with these distressing conditions.

More widely, they have co-operated with an initiative from Scripture Union called Being With God. This is a series of Bible Study notes for use with those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. Essentially, the series goes for the simple and the familiar, triggering some of the longer-term memory that is less likely to have been lost. So far, there are three entries in the series: Word Of Peace, Words Of Hope and Words Of Faith.

Here is Songs Of Praise presenter Pam Rhodes promoting the series:

And here she is again, interviewing the project leader, Tricia Williams:

When I speak tomorrow, I am going to take my cue not only from the request to keep things short and simple, but from the appeal to longer-term memory. I am going to attempt a brief reflection on the words of the penitent thief at Calvary: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” I shall talk about our earliest and our best memories, hoping that plugs into some positive thoughts, and then move on to the fact that whatever we might forget, Jesus remembers us. I wonder how it will go.

Does any reader have any experience in this area to share?