The Impact of Dementia – A Conversation about Faith

Supporting Transitions of Dementia

I would like to invite you to join me in a ministry with those impacted by dementia.  I will be facilitating a Dementia Support Group monthly at the St. Paul Monastery in Maplewood, MN.  For more information, click here.

Helping Dementia

This group is particularly directed to family members of those with dementia but is also open to those who are care givers to those with dementia.  The group will meet monthly until December when there will be a time of assessment regarding the future of the times together.

To love and support someone with demenita results in a long period of grief.  The grief comes from lost relationship, shattered dreams, loss of freedom and exhaustion.  In this situation it is important that care givers also become care receivers.  Those who love and care for someone with dementia need a time to be with others on the journey.

The process will function as a form of  group spiritual direction with check-in and introductions followed by discussions and sharing around various issues connected with dementia .   This will not be a workshop on dementia and will not serve as a continuing education experience.

It is important that this group be a place of safety. The group experience will involve listening to one another and to God and will not be a place of judgement.  All feelings are valid and all will be turned over to God in prayer. The group is to be a place where one can find full acceptance regardless of the topic.  In the book entitled, Jan’s Story, the author, a man, writes that “essentially my wife is dead and I have been saying good by for six years……….I am being encouraged to ‘move on’ and find another woman while still taking care of my wife”.  There are many opinions about this quote but this group will function offer a place to accept his pain, listen to his story and become a place of prayer and support. The time together will be a time for conversation, support and centering prayer; seeking the awareness of God in the situation.

As facilitator for the group, I will be drawing upon my experiences as a chaplain at St. Anthony Senior Living in St. Anthony, Minnesota and my formation as a Spiritual Director.   I have had experience with dementia in my own family and I currently serve residents with dementia and their families and loved ones. My doctoral work in adult education had a secondary focus upon educational gerontology which also helps me understand the dynamics of dementia.

However, the focus of this group is not upon the facilitator.  Rather, the focus is upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit as individuals share and then center in prayer.

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