Tag Archives: faith communities

Dementia-Friendly Faith Communities: Let’s Get Started

Faith communities should start to think about creating a culture of acceptance for persons with dementia.

Many faith communities find themselves investing in worship experiences that will attract younger members.  However, it is just as essential to keep older members engaged and attending worship services, including those with dementia.

Faith often plays a vital role in the lives of persons with dementia and their family members.  But, the presence of dementia can greatly interfere with a person’s ability to actively engage in their faith community.

Becoming a dementia-friendly congregation will create an open and welcoming environment for all.  It is an initiative that can be embraced by all members, regardless of age.  Faith communities are stronger when they recognize the value of multi-generational connection and interaction.

Dementia-Friendly Transformation

Church leaders can begin by calling upon professional community resources to educate congregational members about the needs of persons with dementia.

We should dispel notions that people with dementia are incapable of benefitting from worship.  As a result,  persons with dementia can be more easily understood and accepted with compassion and lack of judgment.

Recognizing when someone stops attending is a good first step.  Leaving the house alone as the disease progresses is very overwhelming and leads to isolation. Mobilizing volunteers to reach out and offer transportation could help them hold on to their faith a little longer.

Start with Small Changes

Begin with simple changes to assist persons with dementia to better navigate their way around the church. Therefore, consider forming a group of volunteers, with specialized training, to serve as ambassadors to escort or sit with someone in need.

Create opportunities for purposeful engagement to keep them connected.  Serving as a greeter, wiping down tables after fellowship, or telling a bible story in Sunday school may be a possibility.

Dementia-friendly worship is best when it is inclusive and engaging.  In doing so, we help them stay close to God and honor the mothers and fathers of our faith.

Beth is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute and a compassionate professional with decades of experience as a Registered Nurse, caregiver, patient advocate, educator, and trainer.  Early in her career, Beth found her passion for working with elderly populations and their caregivers.  Living in the Green Bay/Fox Valley area with her husband, she enjoys driving a ski boat for barefoot or slalom water-skiers, playing board games or creating a new quilt.

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute. Through her company Enlighten Eldercare,  she provides training and educational programs on elder caregiving to private and professional caregivers.  She is an instructor and the Interim Director of Gerontology at Northern Illinois University and lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburb of Mount Prospect, IL.

Communication Skills Training Improves Dementia Care

Caring for people with dementia requires specialized communication skills training.  Unfortunately, healthcare professionals and family caregivers often receive little training to enable them to meet the communicative needs of people with dementia.

Research has shown that communication skills training in dementia care significantly improves the quality of life and well being of people with dementia and increases positive interactions in various care settings. Communication skills training shows significant impact on professional and family caregivers’ communication skills, competencies, and knowledge.

As we look at the look at the vast growth taking place across the spectrum of those serving older adults,  in addition to the health and long-term care fields.  Communication skills training is being implemented by EMS professionals, Social Work, Case Management, Chaplains and Volunteer workers and to the broader community of those serving older adults in a wide variety of capacities.  Financial advisors, insurance personnel, retail, and banking are all seeing a rising need for communication skills training to better serve their older adult customer base that often is living with dementia or other cognitive impairments.

Key qualities for those directly serving the elderly and aging populations are

1. communication skills

2. compassion

3. physical stamina.

With the growing demand for in-home care services, home health aides and certified nursing assistants (CNAs),  communications skills training is more important than ever so they are well prepared to care for the high percentage of people living with dementia.  These are high demand professions and one of the fastest growing occupations projected.  Already, in many areas of the US and around the world, shortages and the consequences of these staffing challenges are affecting the quality of care.

Quality communication skills training, starting with awareness and empathy training will better prepare our health care teams, retailers,  legal and financial advisors, faith communities and first responders to face the already ballooning numbers of aging adults who deserve better care and certainly more respect here and around the globe.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  Pam is the creator of the internationally recognized Dementia Live® awareness and simulation training program.  

http://www.AGEucate.com

 

The Important Role of Faith Community Nursing

Faith-based hospital organizations recognize the impact of partnerships with their local faith-based communities.  The important role of faith community nursing programs is to bridge the gap in helping congregational nurses to meet the needs of their faith communities.

Who are faith community nurses?  They are licensed, registered nurses who focus on the intentional care of the spirit, assisting the members of the faith community to maintain and/or regain wholeness in body, mind and spirit.  Often this program integrates a covenant between the hospital, the faith community and the registered nurse.

How can faith community nursing programs help with dementia care?   Caring for a loved one with dementia can be a heavy burden.  Families often turn to their faith communities after their families for education, support and resources.  If hospital faith nurses are able to coordinate information, services, education and support through a faith community nurse who works directly with those members, transfer of important information to those families becomes critical.

If families are able to call upon the expertise of a health care professional who is medically qualified, has experience in helping caregivers and individuals living with dementia, this can be a huge help to that family in keeping their loved one safely at home, finding needed respite services or community-based care.

As hospitals branch out with community clinics, expanding their physical reach to neighborhoods, the role of outreach efforts to bridge educational services with faith communities is a huge opportunity and benefit for the hospital, community organizations and ultimately the families who desperately need access to support, education and resource information.

The role of faith community nursing will no doubt evolve with the fast growth of the aging population and rise of family caregivers.  The “village” concept is taking hold with the initiatives of many aging services, hospitals and grass-roots efforts coming together to reach homebound older adults who too often don’t know where to turn or how to start to look for help.

Pam Brandon is the President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  The creator of the internationally recognized Dementia Live sensitivity awareness program.  

http://www.AGeucate.com

Caregiver’s Bill of Rights – Words of Guidance and Hope

Families caring for aging adults have and will continue to reach unprecedented numbers affecting every corner of our society.   We MUST address the complex needs of this population who are the foundation of long-term care nationwide, exceeding Medicaid long-term care spending in all states (National Alliance for Caregiving and Overcare, March 2009).  Jo Horne, author of Caregiving:  Helping an Aging Love One created the Caregiver’s Bill of Rights. These are powerful and impactful words of hope and guidance for each and every person caring for a family member or friend:

I have the right . . . 

To take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the capacity to take better care of my relative.

To seek help from others even though my relative may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.

To maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I care for, just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything that I reasonably can for this person, and I have the right to do some things for myself.

To get angry, be depressed, and express other difficult feelings occasionally.

To reject any attempt by my relative (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt, anger, or depression.

To receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance for what I do for my loved one for as long as I offer these qualities in return.

To take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of my relative.

To protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my relative no longer needs my full-time help.

To expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically and mentally impaired older persons in our country, similar strides will be made toward aiding and supporting caregivers.

To ___________________________________________________
(Add you own statement of rights to this list. Read the list to yourself every day.)

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those that serve them.

www.AGEucate.com

www.caregiveraction.org