ABOUT DEMENTIA FRIENDLY CHURCH
Dementia and the Church
Currently there are approximately 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, and by 2051 this is expected to rise to two million people.
225,000 will develop dementia this year, that’s one every three minutes.
1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia.
70 per cent of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems.
There are over 40,000 people under 65 with dementia in the UK.
More than 25,000 people from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups in the UK are affected
(source Alzheimer's Society)
For those living with dementia and their carers, this disease is extremely demanding, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Often many church leaders only experience of dementia is when someone in their congregation begins to develop early symptoms, receives a diagnosis or when they are visiting a care home in their parish or area. Whilst someone with dementia offers a unique set of challenges to a church leader, they still need to know the support and love of God in their lives. Someone with dementia will often still remember how you made them feel even if they can't remember the detail of the meeting or even the meeting itself.
This challenge is only going to get bigger and we believe now is the time for churches to tackle this growing problem by learning about the condition and how to better support and love those who have the condition and their carers and families.
What can we do to help?
We know that there are now many different styles of church, both building and service type, some of which people think are completely inaccessible to someone with dementia. However, we believe that any style of service or type of building can still be a welcoming loving place with some small tweaks. After all the church is not primarily about the building or the style but the people. If a church can make a small shift this can open it up to those with dementia and their carers and families who often feel very alone and unsupported.
With training and support we can help churches and their leaders understand dementia more fully and start to help equip them in this area. This can be a rich and rewarding area of ministry when you see someone responding to God when many may feel is not possible.
Whether you meet in a grade 1 or 2 listed church building, a school or even a theatre we believe properly equipped churches can offer a welcoming, inclusive and safe place where the person with dementia can find friendship, support and love and, their carer and family can often find much needed respite, rest and peace.
The PramaFoundation is working hard to help churches and their leaders to understand these challenges, feel more equipped to reach out and help people with dementia and their carers to feel loved, welcomed and safe.
The PramaFoundation as a Christian charity is uniquely placed to assist in this area. With over 35 years of experience with working with the elderly, offering care,support and groups to many with dementia.
The spiritual needs of many older people are not being met because they have developed dementia. Our call is to all people, as Jesus loves all not just those who are well. If June developed cancer, as her journey got harder the church would draw closer, but, if she developed dementia often the opposite occurs because it is harder to understand. Let us help you understand how to minister to those who develop this condition because their dementia shouldn't become a hurdle for their faith.
The challenge of dementia means that those who have developed this condition can have a whole number of symptoms like shorter attention spans, memory issues, difficulty thinking, problem solving issues, or language issues, to name just a few. However, these should not be a barrier for those with the condition from enjoying fellowship and worship within a church community. With a few small changes, a little extra support and someone with dementia can still enjoy an active part in church and worship or how about a service specifically for those with dementia in your parish or area.
The church's love for people is often at the forefront of their teaching. This is all very well when someone can remember the love you have given them, but what about the person who can come every week and still forget who you are or that they had even been with you before. We can help you learn about dementia so that although the person coming into your congregation may not remember you, you know how to love and support them in a way that helps them feel relaxed and welcome and a way that can also help that persons carer and family.
OK so you have someone with dementia in your congregation what activities can you do with them to help keep them feeling connected. What if they serve on a team, how do you keep them involved and supported . What if they are now to unwell to make it to church are there ways you can keep them connected. Can you deliver something of value to those with dementia in the care home you visit. How can you help the carers of dementia patients in your community. How do you welcome someone with dementia when they arrive at church and support them through the service.