Navigate the elder care road with spiritual best practices, useful tips, and links to helpful sources.
Gideons International. The good people at Gideons donate large-print bibles (New Testament plus Psalms) to accredited senior care residences; all it takes is an email to your local chapter. Donations are optional and appreciated.
Note: Even for residents who can no longer read, holding a bible provides a sense of participation and familiarity.
ElderSong. This thoughtful organization offers recorded sing-along music and lyrics, including hymns, that are specifically geared toward elders: songs are all slower, shorter, and in a lower key. Genius!
Alzheimer’s Association. The nation’s foremost organization for Alzheimer’s disease care, support, and research — all offered for free. Find a local chapter near you.
Megan Carnarius, RN. Longtime senior-care expert and author of A Deeper Perspective on Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias: Practical Tools with Spiritual Insights (2015), Megan is one of the most compassionate and knowledgeable people I know in the field of elder care, and her perspective of dementia’s unique journey — including its hidden blessings — inspires me. Through her company, Memory Care Consulting, Megan offers families in-home consultations and personalized care plans; she also offers insight and expertise to organizations and caregivers along the entire spectrum of senior care.
Teepa Snow. One of the country’s foremost educators on dementia, Teepa Snow is a true evangelist for compassionate, positive care. Her website is a treasure chest of valuable resources, including online and onsite training opportunities. In 2016, I was fortunate to attend one of her lectures — a high-energy, information-packed day that gave me memorable tools I still use every day.
The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer’s Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss, by Nancy Mace and Peter Rabins (2012). An incredibly helpful, best-selling book that changed our paradigm about Alzheimer’s disease, offering hope and even joy amidst the challenges.
Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life, by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. A collection of brief stories, poems, thoughts, and more on seeing and appreciating the divine in day-to-day experiences of nature, service, community, and so on. You can dip into this for short readings appropriate for worship services.
Spiritual Rx: Prescriptions for Living a Meaningful Life, by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. I love the format of this book, which offers a compendium of teachings, exercises and rituals, prayers, discussion questions, projects, art, music, and more for each of 37 spiritual practices, such as Compassion, Faith, Hospitality, Joy, Peace, and Unity. A great source for services, discussions, and studies.
BibleGateway.com. Search for bible passages by word (“peace”), phrase (“behold how pleasant it is”), topic, or book (Genesis through Revelation). The entire bible is available for free, in numerous translations, and it’s easy to cut and paste sections into other documents for a bible study or church service. Bible Gateway also offers a wealth of other resources, such as daily devotions and reading plans.
FaithandWorship.com. I stumbled across this website recently and am amazed by its depth and sincerity. In my opinion, the author, John Birch, has a divine gift of composing worshipful, heartfelt prayers for every occasion, including daily devotions and Christian holy days, which he offers for use in worship services. If you’re looking for a prayer for yourself or a particular occasion, don’t start with Google; start at FaithandWorship.com.
If you want to create a personal playlist of hymns, Worship Service Resources offers excellent downloadable sing-along hymn collections, complete with voice accompaniment; I particularly like the one called Hymns of the Cross. For instrumental music, HymnPod offers dozens of downloadable hymns and lyrics (listed alphabetically), though there’s no voice accompaniment. I love these options because they’re simple: no fancy orchestral arrangements or performance frills, just beautiful piano music that’s easy to follow.