What’s the most difficult pastoral care visit you’ve had to make? I suspect that many would say it is visiting a person who has advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. There is now help with this issue in the form of a very practical little book written by an Episcopal priest, Colette Bachand-Wood.
In this 111-page paperback book, she conveys some her own experience with her demented father together with her pastoral experience as a Hospice Chaplain and a parish priest. She introduces you to a number of people and uses their stories to help you understand particular situations. Over the years she has collected these ‘stories’ and presents some very practical and meaningful ‘actions/suggestions’ to help in ministering to these people.
While much of the book is focused on providing pastoral care, the suggestions and activities she offers are just as valuable to family members dealing with this issue. She provides a number of the most common signs of dementia and suggests some ways to best approach these people. Helping people to recognize their own body language, choosing the best words and being aware of your own tone of voice are some of the suggestions she offers to help in communicating. At the conclusion of the book, she provides three appendices:
- Putting together a worship service,
- Prayers, and
- Resources in which she provides a number of additional activities and services.
Interestingly, the parish she serves is designated as a “Dementia Friendly” parish. She has people in her congregation specifically trained to assist families that want to continue to bring their loved ones to worship. These people know how to assist family members if and when something unexpected might happen. This is a great book and every clergy person should read, mark and inwardly digest the wisdom that Colette Bachand-Wood has so succinctly shared with her readers. It was published in 2016 by Morehouse Publishing and is available through Church Publishing or Amazon.