The United Methodist Church releases Alzheimer’s/dementia resource

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How churches can help persons living with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, and their caregivers, is the topic of a new free resource from The United Methodist Church. Retired Bishop Ken Carder wrote the offering based on his experiences of caring for his wife following her diagnosis with a form of dementia.

Retired United Methodist Bishop Ken Carder (left) wrote the new resource to aid churches in helping persons living with forms of dementia and their caregivers based on his own experience caring for his wife, Linda (right).

Retired United Methodist Bishop Ken Carder (left) wrote the resource to aid churches in helping persons living with forms of dementia based on his own experience caring for his wife, Linda (right).

There is hope in the form of the church's response to these diseases.

How can churches help people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and their caregivers? Answering that question is the topic of a new, free resource now available from The United Methodist Church.

The five-part study, titled “Alzheimer’s/Dementia: Ministry with the Forgotten” includes downloadable videos and a leader’s guide. The Rev. Ken Carder, a retired bishop of The United Methodist Church, wrote the resource based on his experiences caring for his wife, Linda, who was diagnosed in 2009 with frontal temporal dementia.

“(The resource) was created to start conversations and to generate action around caring for people who have Alzheimer’s and the people who care for them,” said Carder, who currently serves as chaplain at Bethany Memory Care Center at the Heritage of Lowman, the retirement center near Columbia, S.C., where he and Linda live.

The aim, Carder said, is that the new offering can help older adult ministry leaders and pastors, family and caregivers of those living with dementia, as well as persons in early stages of dementia.

Topics covered in the study, designed to be used in a small group setting, include impact and challenges of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia; practical and specific ways local congregations can be involved in caring for those with dementia and their caregivers; and ways individuals can communicate, interact and worship with people who have Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The release of “Alzheimer’s/Dementia: Ministry with the Forgotten” coincides with Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s every 65 seconds, with one in three seniors dying with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia (more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined). When it comes to caregivers, more than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s/dementia, with those caregivers saying they have substantial emotional, financial and physical difficulties at double the rate of those who care for people without dementia.

Despite the bleak statistics, Carder says there is hope.

“There is hope in the form of the church’s response to these diseases,” Carder said. “The church has the unique opportunity – even responsibility – to minister to the needs of people who are suffering from neurological cognitive disorders, as well as the families and medical professionals who care for them.”

The Golden Cross Foundation for the Adult/Older Adult Ministries of the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church produced “Alzheimer’s/Dementia: Ministry with the Forgotten.” To download the leader’s guide, click here. To download the videos, visit this page. Donations to help underwrite the resource can be made at GoldenCrossFoundation.org.

About the Golden Cross Foundation
The Golden Cross Foundation of The Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church was created to serve as an extension ministry of the conference. The non-profit’s goal is to provide funding assistance for new and ongoing ministries and services with older adults in the Tennessee Conference; and to provide expertise and strategic planning to the Tennessee Conference for the expansion of innovative and effective ministries with older adults.

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Crystal Caviness