Fulfilled living in later life

Friday 1st December 2023

Resource focus: Dementia Inclusive Church

This updated booklet describes six key steps that enable a church to be truly relevant for people with dementia and their families. Louise Morse, who authored the booklet, explains

What is meant by the term ‘dementia inclusive church’?

Dementia is largely a disease of old age, and as our population ages so the number of people living with it has increased. This is reflected in most church fellowships, prompting many to learn about the condition and how to help people living with it and their families. As well as visiting with encouragement and practical help, many have formed day clubs and groups for people with dementia and their caregivers, both in their churches and in the local community. These churches have become more than dementia friendly: they are intentionally ‘dementia inclusive.’ An example is the ministry of Jesus Christ. He was called ‘a friend of sinners’ (Matthew 19:17), but He offered more than friendship: He made a way for them (and for us) to be included in His Kingdom.

Why is this book such an important resource for churches?

A Christian’s sense of self is anchored in his or her relationship with Jesus, and in turn is strengthened by relationships with others, and the routine of attendance and church tradition.

As dementia progresses and the sense of identity becomes less certain, churches help by ‘holding’ them in their faith. Believers are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).

The symbolism in Ezekiel’s Temple of the priests’ chambers alongside the living flame in the Holy Place speaks of the church ministering to the spirit of the person, helping to keep the whole temple alight.

Pilgrims Friend Resources Dementia Inclusive Church cover 2 1

How have you seen/ heard of a ‘dementia inclusive’ approach to church transforming life for Christians living with dementia and their loved ones?

A church Elder told me of the elderly aunt whose nephew brought her to church meetings, even though he was not a believer. He did it, he said, because it made such a difference to her. The Elder told me that the nephew eventually came to faith himself and joined the church.

We also see this happening in our care homes when, during worship or a Bible reading in the home’s daily service ‘family members’ (as we call those who live with us) have been ‘caught up’ with the Holy Spirit and His peace. It helped a former pastor, now living with dementia, accept his loss, knowing he said, that the Lord was holding his hand. There are so many more stories I could tell.

Why did you personally feel compelled to create this resource?

For the same reason I wrote my books; for people to have the knowledge they need in order to give effective help and support to people with dementia and their families.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to build one another up and church helpers are blessed when they see their efforts working well. A frequent comment after I’ve given a talk at an event or in a church is, “I wish I’d known that earlier!”

Dementia Inclusive Church
, priced £3, is available now.

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