A nonexclusive list of spiritual best practices, useful tips, and links to helpful sources.
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.
AlzAuthors.com. Sometimes you just need to know you’re not alone. This heartfelt group, put together by writers who have a personal connection with Alzheimer’s and dementia, offers an extraordinary collection of memoirs, novels, caregiving guides and more to support you on the journey.
Clergy Against Alzheimer’s network and Faith United Against Alzheimer’s coalition, subsets of Us Against Alzheimer’s, an advocacy group. I was delighted to find these interfaith communities of like-minded clergy, faith leaders, laity, and organizations, all sharing the goal of mobilizing faith communities to be more dementia-friendly, ensuring spiritual care for those with dementia, and raising awareness of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Check out the beautiful stole that one of the founders, Lynda Everman, sent me!
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.
Even for residents who can no longer read, holding a Bible provides a sense of participation and familiarity during Bible discussions.
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.
Positive Approach to Care with 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. 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.
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.
Loving Through Dementia, a project of Due West United Methodist Church in Marietta, Georgia, offers wonderful online resources (many for free) to encourage dementia awareness and improved care for families dealing with dementia. If you’re a friend, family member, or clergy who wants to grow your understanding of and action in serving families impacted by dementia, this is a great place to find help, hope, inspiration, and education.
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.
Dementia-Friendly Worship: A Multifaith Handbook for Chaplains, Clergy and Faith Communities, by Linda Everman, Don Wendorf, Kathy Fogg Berry, et al. (2019). This book is an outstanding resource for the why and how of providing meaningful, engaging worship experiences for people living with dementia. It includes numerous essays and guidance from leaders of different faith traditions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism. and Native American.
When Words Fail: Practical Ministry to People with Dementia and Their Caregivers, by Kathy Fogg Berry (2018). This book and related website are full of compassionate and practical tools, offered by a Christian chaplain with years of dementia-specific pastoral care experience.
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.
Second Forgetting: Remembering the Power of the Gospel During Alzheimer’s Disease, by Dr. Benjamin Mast. A wonderful book that explores “the biblical importance of remembering God’s commitment to never forget his people.” I underlined the author’s wisdom and suggestions on practically every page.