How you can offer soul support for seniors with dementia
Are you a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia? Are you a time-pressed activity director at a long-term care community who wants to offer spiritual activities?
If so, I applaud you – and can help you. As you lovingly meet older adults’ physical and social needs, I can give you the guidance and resources to meet their spiritual needs as well.
I have more than 35 years of experience leading nondenominational Christian worship services and Bible studies in both church and parachurch settings. I also have nearly 20 years of experience interacting with older adults with dementia, a population I absolutely love. (My own father-in-law developed Alzheimer’s disease in the early 2000s, and my husband and I were intimately involved with his journey until his death in 2012.)
In 2016, I combined my spiritual-care experience with my dementia-care experience and became a licensed chaplain for elders with dementia. I serve at a long-term memory care community near my home in Boulder, Colorado.
What you’ll find here
When I began this work, I found almost no resources specific to the spiritual needs of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias … so I created them myself. (I’m also a professional writer and editor.) Then I realized that others might find these resources useful as well. That’s why I created SpiritualEldercare.com.
Spiritual Eldercare make it easy for you to engage elders with dementia with meaningful, interactive spiritual activities. I offer:
- Dementia-friendly Bible discussion guides and tips on how to lead one.
- Full length, dementia-friendly nondenominational worship agendas, complete with suggested scripture readings, songs, poems, an interactive homily guide, and more.
- Downloadable audio files (MP3) of sing-along hymns, spirituals, and Christmas songs, specifically arranged for elders with dementia (slower, shorter, and in a lower key).
- Downloadable, large-print hymnals for group singing.
- YouTube versions of all of my hymns and church services (started in March 2020 in response to covid-19 lockdowns).
I decided from the get-go to offer these resources for free because I want to remove any possible barrier for anyone who wants to provide this kind of care. I gratefully accept donations, which help pay for things like song licensing and ongoing chaplain and dementia-care education.
Why is spiritual care for people with dementia so important?
Most of the elders in our midst went to church regularly all their lives — but, as they move into assisted living facilities or struggle with dementia, many are no longer able to attend. Many served in their churches for decades and desperately want to know that God has not forgotten them. These elders are not “gone” — even if they live with the ravages of dementia. Their lives still have meaning, beauty, and purpose.
In my experience, elders with dementia still want to know more about God, how to be faithful servants, and what their purpose is today. Familiar faith rituals, words, and songs bring back hopeful, comforting long-term memories. Even those who can no longer speak or seem lost to the fog of dementia respond profoundly – even miraculously – to old-time hymns, loving touch, eye contact, and conversation about spiritual things.
With Spiritual Eldercare resources, you — yes, you! — can create times of meaningful spiritual connection for elders with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. The benefits are myriad, and I guarantee you’ll receive more blessing than you give.
Connect with me
I care deeply about this work and want to make it possible for anyone, anywhere. Feedback and suggestions are always welcome. I respond personally to every inquiry and would love to talk with you.
Peace be with you,
Elisa Bosley, Chaplain | Boulder, Colorado
24 thoughts on “About”
Wow, this looks great, Elisa! Very well organized and visually appealing, too 🙂 GOOD JOB!!! I am sure many others will be interested, it’s a definitely needed resource. xoxo Melanie
I just want to say thanks to you for the moment I find your website! I am a Chinese music therapy student and I do not have much experience with this area. What you write here reminds me of elders I met before… Besides, I am preparing for graduate study in US and always hoping to become an excellent music therapist. By learning what you share here can help me to know more and get closer to elders who have religious beliefs!
That is wonderful to hear! Music therapy is such a beautiful area. I pray that God will bless you as you use music to serve others. If you have any questions at any time about seniors, dementia, Christian beliefs, etc, please let me know; I would love to connect!
This is excellent!! You’re SUCH a good writer… and the site is well laid out and easy to use. Well done dear one! What a wonderful thing you’re bringing to the world ❤
Thank you Kuvy!
This site is wonderful in every way, and I’m sure will be incredibly helpful to many, both practically and spiritually. Thank you, Elisa, for adding meaning and love to the world.
Thank you, dear Margo.
This is wonderful, Elisa! I am deeply grateful for the resources you’ve created and compiled. My 84-yr-old Mom lives in a Memory Care facility here in Broomfield and I will utilize these so much! I would love to hear if/when your mp3 Hymns project gets completed – what a fabulous idea!
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Lori, that’s music to my ears. I’m so glad, and please let me know how it goes for you and your mom; I really want to know how to improve these resources, so let me know what you find as you use them. I am hoping and praying to get the MP3 recording done in 2018.
Elisa, thank you. I want to start a dementia Bible study and find it challenging. My first session was this past Sunday – why we believe and have faith. . I think it was well received and worth all the time I put into it. I’ve taught adult groups for many years, but this is different. I want to give each of them something special to take back with them – a word, a phrase or a memory. This week I want to spend time in the New Testament. – maybe the Prodigal Son or Matthew 5 on the Blessings. Thank you for giving me such great ideas and resources.
Walt, that is wonderful to hear! Yes, there are challenges, but I promise if you stick with it you will be blessed beyond measure. I hope you find my approach helpful; I’d love any feedback. I’m in the process of revamping a lot of stuff, so stay tuned for more! Blessings on your heart and ministry to these dear elders.
I have been lead to your sight and I must say that I am grateful.
I m a Coordinator in an Dementia/ Alzheimer Community and never have I been so blessed.
I do need the Lord’s guidance every minute of the day.
Thank you for doing what you do,
Jacqualene, thank you for these kind words, and for your work! I’m in the process of updating a lot of materials on the site as well as creating free downloadable hymn singalongs … so stay tuned 🙂 Blessings, E
These are the best and most wonderful lessons for alzheimers patients at our nursing home where I am teaching. I love it and they do to. The way the lessions are written are just wonderful to teach. I love the way you explain everything. Keep up the good works and May God Bless You. Joyce Dupree
Joyce, thank you so much! I am thrilled that they’re working for you and your residents. And stay tuned: I’m planning to update the Bible studies and worship services as soon as I’m finished with the Hymns for Alzheimer’s project this summer (click on “Blog” above if you don’t know what that is). Blessings on your good work!
I am thrilled to have found this site. I am a Faith Community Nurse at my church and have a love for people with dementia. As a nurse I worked for years with those having dementia.
We have done some special people getting lost in our women”s Bible Study and I want to do a small group with them . Your material is wonderful. I look forward to following more.
Jennifer, I’m so glad! I’m getting ready to update everything on the site to make the materials even more useful, I hope. Let me know if there is anything in particular you think would be helpful—I really want the feedback. Bless you for your love and effort to connect these elders with the Spirit!
I greatly praise the Lord, worn out and weary, needing a new sermon for tomorrow, He led me to your website, so perfect , so well done, questions are just what I wanted to bring a new dimension into my work, so simple but so effective. I am Chaplain in a Retirement Village, 500 residents and 250 staff, besides visiting I take weekly service in the Hospital and Resthome where many have dementia. Also a monthly service for residents. It is so refreshing to have your work available. May you and your whole family be greatly blessed for your hard work, love for the elderly and your generosity towards the multitudes you are blessing, Thankyou,Thankyou, Thankyou. Love and Blessings in Christ.
Hephzibah Smith, Northland, New Zealand
Hephzibah, bless you for this note, and even more for your sacrificial love for your residents and staff. I can only imagine how exhausting it is with that many people to serve! You’re exactly the kind of person I had in mind when I put these resources online, so I’m grateful to God that you found the site. I’m updating the materials all the time, so keep checking in, and know that I am praying for you, that you would be filled with the Spirit’s grace and mercy while you pour yourself out in service to others.
I have been thinking and praying about offering a Memory Care service while the caregivers attend the regular service. I am qualified, an Occupational Therapy Assistant with a degree in Gerontology and a post grad in Dementia Therapy.
Of course there would be at least one other responsible person. I have some concerns about liability issues. Do you know of other churches using this format?
Pamela, I love and bless you for wanting to do this! Although my calling is to bring church into long-term memory care communities, I’m definitely aware that many churches want to become more dementia-friendly in numerous ways. Personally, I’m a big fan of educating congregations to be able to welcome people living with dementia and for everyone to worship together. However, a special, separate service for people with dementia can also be a good idea, especially to offer caregivers a break. A couple of sources you might want to check out: https://www.usagainstalzheimers.org/networks/faith and http://www.actonalz.org/sites/default/files/documents/Dementia-Friendly-Church-Guide.pdf (UK). You can also google “dementia-friendly church” and you’ll find lots of sources. I’d be happy to chat with you and/or your church leaders if you have any questions.
I am a nurse in a small assisted living facility. We are currently without an activity director. I am a Christian and love speaking and doing devotions and Bible study so when I came across this site I was excited beause I have agreed to do the daily devotion with the residents. When I was a much younger woman with small children and no time to go back to school, I taught a Bible study on Amos to kids.It had a side bar on Chaplaincy and I was so drawn in by that. I truly wanted to be a chaplain but circumstances at the time prevented it. I believe God led me to this site because I found the link to the chaplaincy program included. I have a servant’s heart –my joy comes from serving others in whatever capacity they need to be served. Thank you for sharing this site.
Wanda, I’m not sure why I didn’t see your note until now, nearly 8 months later! My apologies for not responding! Thank you for your love for elders, and I hope you’ve been able to pursue your dream of chaplaincy in the Lord’s timing.