How can the church care for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia?

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We have given some thought in recent years to seniors’ ministry. Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other conditions are very prevalent. We’ve thought about how to minister in conjunction with things that are offered in the world—things the state offers, things the federal government might offer in terms of medical care, and so on—but what else can we do?

Typically, if people are in an advanced state, they’re going to be in some kind of nursing facility, so visiting them as much as possible is important. Those with Alzheimer’s and dementia can often remember things from when they were younger. They can often remember Psalm 23, for example. I have been in situations where people have fairly advanced dementia, but as soon as we begin to sing a familiar hymn, they will join in. They had no idea who we were, or even where they were, but they do remember those Scriptures or hymns. I have seen that many times.

Even in cases of advanced dementia, it’s important to go and read familiar Scripture to them. Maybe take your phone and play them familiar hymns. I think it’ll surprise you what is possible.

This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with Derek Thomas and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email or message us on Facebook or Twitter.