Download A Guide to the Spiritual Dimension of Care for People With by Eileen Shamy PDF

By Eileen Shamy

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Extra info for A Guide to the Spiritual Dimension of Care for People With Alzheimer s Disease and Related Dementia: More Than Body, Brain, and Breath

Sample text

In many ways dementia is an unfortunate term for the use of lay people because for some it may have connotations of madness. People with a dementia illness may sometimes behave strangely and a few may even become aggressive for short periods if their needs are not understood. However, they are not insane. Rather, they are people with failing mental powers. It is helpful to remember that we accept kidney failure, heart failure, pancreas failure, even bladder and bowel failures, without prejudice.

As the disease relentlessly continues to destroy the brain, the immune system is compromised and the patient becomes vulnerable to infections. Pneumonia is often the immediate and merciful cause of death. While progress through each of these three stages is gradual and remorseless in its destruction, a surprising number of ‘islands’ of relatively normal activity will be noted by the observant care giver until late in the process. We do not know just which functions may remain intact or for how long.

Some time after the worship one member of that group confessed that she was very frightened and uncertain about her ability to cope when asked to participate. ‘I did not know what to expect. I was afraid,’ she said. She had 36 THE SPIRITUAL DIMENSION OF CARE FOR PEOPLE WITH ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE… asked for her parish presbyter’s support, only to hear that he too was afraid. He did not attend. These two friends are not alone in their fear. ’ Such an encounter confronts us with human helplessness and human vulnerability, with people who remind each one of us of how easily memory and self-awareness can be snatched away.

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