Many Alzheimer’s patients had a deeply religious or spiritual lifestyle when they were younger. Dementia affects one in ten people over the age of 65 and can wipe out many of the rituals and traditions of their prior lives. It is important for the memory care facility to be respectful of the patients’ faith and spiritual activities, and include these aspects in patients’ daily lives. Participating in religious activities may be soothing to the Alzheimer’s patient and will increase a feeling of well-being. You should facilitate the spiritual wishes of the residents if religion was a large part of their background.
People with Alzheimer’s should be able to remain connected to their faith and fulfill their spiritual needs.
Ideas for Alzheimer’s patients in memory care facilities:
Church service. A pastor or priest can come in every Sunday, or as often as needed to give a sermon and pray. Patients may remember different passages of the Bible and will enjoy hearing them again.
- Radio and TV programs. Many religious services are broadcast weekly or even daily, and allow patients to enjoy the service in the comfort of their own room (or in the community room).
- Reading the Bible or other devotionals, and attending Bible Study. Some facilities have a pastor or deacon come in regularly for Bible Study, or different members can take turns reading from a devotional or religious poetry book.
- Prayer groups. Lead by a pastor, a prayer group can provide an opportunity to praise God and express gratitude to the Creator.
- Listening to hymns or worship songs. Music is a large part of worship and may bring back memories or encourage the patients to sing along. Involve them in activities they were familiar with at one time. Ask what kind of music they like to have played in public areas and include some hymns or worship songs in the selection offered during meals and breaks.
- Arrange for a visiting choir. Nursing staff and caretakers may want to share with people in their faith community that they are taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s, and encourage them to visit or organize a choir of young people to come sing.
Providing familiar rituals will bring much comfort and joy to Alzheimer’s patients, and the memory of cherished traditions may greatly improve their mood and attitude.