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DEMENTIA & THE LOCAL CHURCH. Presentation by Roger Hitchings. IMPORTANCE OF SUBJECT. Many people feel fear and anxiety about Dementia Dementia is a reality 820,000 dementia sufferers in UK . 550,000 caregivers . Affects many people through family or friends

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dementia the local church


Presentation by Roger Hitchings

importance of subject

Many people feel fear and anxiety about Dementia

  • Dementia is a reality
            • 820,000 dementia sufferers in UK.
            • 550,000 caregivers.
  • Affects many people through family or friends
  • The Local Church has a responsibility
    • Be informed- ensure one person has good level of knowledge.
    • Be involved– Galatians 6:2 & 10 - much good to be done.
    • Be practical– support sufferer and carer alike.
    • Be spiritual– address spiritual issues as well.
reinforcing duty
  • A duty to be kind to needy people - “whoever is kind to the needy honours God” (Prov.14:31)
  • A duty to promote their interests - “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Prov. 31:8-9)
  • A duty to serve them - “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40)
  • A duty and blessing to help – “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Heb. 6:10)
what is dementia

Dementia is an umbrella term that refers to a condition that results from organic/neurological damage to the brain.

It is a PHYSICAL condition which has nearly 100 different causes including Alzheimer’s Disease, stroke, head trauma, metabolic disorders etc.

  • Also related to alcohol abuse, aids, downs syndrome

Our concern is with people not simply a condition.

could it be dementia
  • Memory loss – often the initial indicator.
    • Not all memory loss is dementia (mild cognitive impairment).
  • Depression- can be like Dementia – can be associated with Dementia – increased anxiety levels.
  • Lost ability to do familiar tasks - looking after oneself.
  • Language problems – losing words – losing thread of a conversation – repetition of things said.
  • Inability to make decisions- loss of confidence.
  • Mood swings – unexpected changes – out of character.
  • Disorientation– place and time - sense of dislocation.
  • Struggling to assimilate new facts- unable to engage in abstract reasoning – difficulty in following conversations.
  • Apathy and sleepiness.
  • Early diagnosis is very important.
    • People are often reluctant to consider possibility – fear, denial and stigma hinder action.
  • Proper diagnosis is vital.
    • There are other conditions which have similar symptoms to Dementia in early stages – ranging from chest and urinary infections to brain tumours.
  • Diagnosis is a process – GP will send to Old Age Psychiatrist or Memory Clinic.
  • Diagnosis is the first step – enables changes to be made in lifestyle – learning to live with Dementia.
more about dementia
  • Exact causes are still not known – genes are not as important as ‘gene expression’.
  • Prevention– lots of advice around – exercise, diet, physical stimulation, intellectual activity, involvement with others etc.
    • Avoid stress!!
  • Difficult decisions may follow – lifestyle changes may include driving, cooking, practical tasks, finances etc.
    • Changes in the home – especially with safety in mind.
    • Discus wherever possible – avoid humiliating – recognise limitations.
  • Challenging behaviour– often a cause – sometimes go with flow.
  • The Person remains – though hidden by the disease.
after diagnosis
  • Many dementias are slow in development. Rate of progressions varies with each person.
    • Can be delayed by medication but not yet prevented
  • Treat depression – don’t live with it
  • Much useful and effective living possible - Contented dementia is a real possibility.
    • Relationship/care approach – maximising person’s skills and remaining faculties.
  • Three stages in development – stages not watertight:
    • Early - uncertainty and anxiety.
    • Moderate – increased confusion and losses.
    • Advanced – full assistance; physical frailty etc.
living with dementia

It is possible to continue to live normally for some time:

  • Acceptance & Cooperation– involves seeking diagnosis, developing understanding condition.
  • Avoid isolation - dropping out to avoid embarrassment - share needs with the church family – be involved with others attend worship.
  • Adapting– focus on what you can do rather than what you have lost - change patterns of living – emphasising abilities.
  • Activities– areas of interest and activity to keep mind and body functioning– “ordinary” groups and “specialist activities”.
  • Adjusting– “dancing with dementia” – making changes to life patterns as disease progresses.
    • Prepare for the future – but live in the present.
    • Build a life - story contact with past – help to supporters.
local church responses
Local Church Responses
  • Value of being aware – encourage in necessary steps
    • an advocate – church understanding – constant prayer for grace.
  • Visiting and keeping in touch – personal involvement – relationships that allow respite time to caregiver.
  • Doing practical things – be available to caregiver – negotiate level of support.
  • Encourage participation in “ordinary” worship - level of involvement will decrease as disease develops
    • Church must be ready to accommodate changing behaviours and even adapt to allow participation.
    • Support group can play vital role in helping in times of worship
    • Special services and communion may prove useful.
    • CD’s not over helpful to caregiver or sufferer.
ministering to sufferers
Ministering to Sufferers
  • Remember each person is unique and made in God’s image – “focus on the person not the disease”
    • Person centred care -relates to the individual and retains the ‘personhood’. Remember their core beliefs, values, significant events
  • Communication is possible and vital– just do it – Scripture and hymns minister – spiritual life still exists.
  • Be appropriate to the condition – learn from caregiver and sufferer.
  • Be patient – love the person – feel the frustration and pain
  • Treat with integrity and respect at all times – Leviticus 19:32
  • Bring God’s truth to bear – in encouragement – speak of the cross, grace and heaven
  • Rementing – spontaneous intermittent remissions when the person reappears – hymns and Scripture verses
  • There is full relief in heaven
think about the caregiver
  • Many negative emotions and considerable demands
    • Facing continuing losses – in sufferer and own life
    • Sad over situation grieving in advance
  • “Role captivity” – loss of social contacts and other roles
  • Depression, frustration, anger – counter emotions in care receiver
  • Inadequacy and fear – guilt and self-blame
  • Personal health seriously affected – 63% higher death rate – important that caregiver attends to their own health needs
  • Spiritual decline and losses – neglected by friends
  • Need for help and support – appropriate and consistent
  • Value of respite care – dementia is a physical illness.
spiritual needs of caregivers
SPIRITUAL Needs of caregivers
  • Ministry of God’s Word and Christian fellowship
  • Empathy and compassion – acknowledgement of their losses
    • Reassurance and encouragement about their role
  • Relief - Human contact and opportunity to be away from caring
  • Reminding of spiritual truths - 1 Peter 5:7; Hebrews 13:5-6; Psalm 38:9-11.
  • Encouragement – support in learning the facts and facing the future - Romans 8:28, 32 & 37
  • The support and prayers of fellow Christians
closing summary
  • Dementia is a physical illness that affects the brain.
  • Good care that focuses on the person can help hold the person together.
  • Nurturing the spiritual life is essential – even in non-Christians ministering spiritual truth and love is VITAL.
  • Churches have a major role to play in caring for the sufferer and supporting the caregiver.