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Could it be dementia? Losing your mind doesn’t mean losing your soul

Monarch Books 2008
RRP $19.95

If you even thought someone had dementia, could you be their special soul friend?

Many with dementia, – and they are increasing in alarming numbers, live for a long time with the disease. Could it be dementia? endeavours to provide Christians with reassurance and the means to cope.

Journalist Louise Morse and past director of Aged Care / Pastor at Pilgrim Homes Roger Hitchings, challenge stigmas around dementia, and seek to find a sense of divine purpose for those who’s loved one is now becoming a stranger and God seems silent.

For 200 years Pilgrim Homes in the UK have been providing ‘undenominational’ Christian care for the elderly. Their Person-Centred focus promotes a holistic (soul) awareness of mind and body.

As reduced blood flow contributes to the build up of plaques and tangles in the brain suggestions are given to provide stimulants including thankfully real chocolate and coffee alongside the exercise and mental puzzles.

Significantly a lack of contact with others results in a sense of detachment. Professor Kenneth Rockwood (who has had Speaking engagements in Australia) is quoted as saying that when caring for a person with dementia our wholehearted attention must be given – “in fact this could be one of the most powerful tools.”

Morse reports that many sufferers still have an ongoing relationship with their God – “who is actively listening”. She says that the insights and experiences of the clients’ themselves have resulted in improved care and medical treatment – see online support network DASNI

The ‘presence’ of the Holy Spirit, described as “treasure in the darkness”, is recorded as often evident during familiar Christian rituals, for which helpful ideas are offered.

Morse and Hitchings share that this painful time is an extraordinary opportunity to empathise – reach another person and experience “the God who lives in each one of us” (John 14:17), so that; “Christianity is a profound transaction” – “not just an intellectual ascent.”

NB ‘Active Listening Skills’ are taught in Lifeline training courses, Chaplaincy training and Lab 1 courses – ask your local Minister.

Reviewed by Krishna Buhler – Cairns Hospital Chaplaincy Committee.