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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Why religion is important to those with dementia

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Even in their later stages, Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia do not necessarily snuff out the spiritual lives of those afflicted, according to many who minister to the elderly.
In fact, familiar hymns and oft-repeated prayers can be an effective way to rekindle memories and touch those whose connection with the world around them has grown tenuous.

Even when individuals remember little more than the tune to a familiar hymn, you have a sense that, internally, they're still worshipping, they get what this is all about.

Patients responded. Familiar rituals and religious symbols seemed to give them a measure of peace.
"Those patients who are able to repeat some of the prayers that are typical for their religious belief seem to be pleased to be able to do that," she said, "and to get the same consolation they ever had from it."

Rabbi Cary Kozberg, chair of the American Society on Aging's Forum on Religion, Spirituality and Aging, went further.
People with dementia, he said, "can sometimes be the most spiritual people, because that cognitive filter isn't there."

"Unfortunately, there are people who believe that folks with dementia have no spiritual needs, because they can't articulate them anymore," he said.

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