Dementia Friendly Churches

Monday 20th May 2019

This week is Dementia Action Week, it used to be called Dementia Awareness Week and while that small change may seem very insignificant – words matter!

It is important that we are aware of the impact that Dementia has not just on the individual but on their whole families. One person develops dementia in the UK every three minutes.  More than 850,000 people in the UK are now living with the condition, and that figure is expected to rise to one million by 2021, and two million by 2051. As our population lives longer the effects of a loved one living with dementia is more likely to impact on us all. But by changing this week to a call for action it places some responsibility on us all to make a difference for these who are dealing with the impact that dementia has in their family.

Specifically this year the Alzheimer Society is asking us to ‘join the conversation’. They are  encouraging everyone to take action by starting a conversation with someone living with dementia they know; whether it’s calling a relative with dementia or visiting a neighbour, it’s time to start talking. It can all begin with a simple ‘hello’.

In our parishes we can also take other actions, we can try to make churches dementia friendly. This might involve holding a special short service, having a designated quiet area or even a simple as picking well known hymns with familiar tunes. It is these seemingly small actions that can make a real difference to those with dementia in our parishes.

We have a number of parishes across the diocese who are putting some of these practices into action, or even starting their own initiatives, like a parish coffee morning for people who have dementia and their carers. This means that they can get out of the house, and meet in a familiar location, with old friends and new, over a cup of coffee.

We hope that our parish communities will become more inclusive to those living with dementia, their carers and their families. We appreciate that churches can offer a lifeline to those living with dementia and help them to stay connected to their spiritual and community life. As the number of people living with dementia continues to grow, our parish communities, working together with charities and the health and care system, can play an important role in creating environments for people living with dementia that enable people to feel safe and supported.

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