Why practising religion is good for those living with dementia

There is more to dementia than mere memory loss. People with dementia may experience a myriad of emotions including irritability, frustration, loss of control, feelings of abandonment and so much more. Residential care homes such as ours, do everything they can to ensure that people with dementia feel understood, safe, and sheltered. One such aspect of wellness care is providing access to practising religion.

Religion can look different to different people. For some it may be worship, for some solely belief, and for some it may be unwavering faith. However, for someone with dementia, religion may be a source of normalcy and peace. 

Here’s how religion can help those living with dementia:

Helps residents with dementia relax:

Agitation is a common trait in people with dementia which can often present itself as irritability or even aggression. Attending a religious service gives them a chance to calm down and decompress. Such services may also provide reassurance and comfort. Residents may also start looking forward to these sessions making them a great routine activity. 

Residents with the local vicar

Instils positive feelings:

People with dementia remember feelings and emotions better than memories. Most times they may forget what happened throughout the day but will remember how they feel by the end of it. 

Residents attending a Christmas service

Practising religion can help install some positive feelings in them which they will remember and cherish. They may also relate a religious service to feelings of positivity and may be more inclined to participate in them. 

 

Provides a safe space and creates a social circle:

Regular religious practice can be comforting to someone living with dementia. These services can act as a safe space for them to express their thoughts and feelings. Religious services give residents with dementia a chance to meet like-minded people. Attending these services regularly may help with feelings of loneliness or isolation and give them a sense of belonging, that’s why we work hard to provide a safe space for religious practice here at The Beeches. 

Christmas service at The Beeches

 

Provides a new-found sense of purpose:

Hosting regular religious services in residential care homes gives the residents something to look forward to. It helps them form a routine which may minimise stress and help them feel calm and in control. 

Being able to do an activity on their own gives those with dementia a sense of independence. Religious services make them feel like a part of something bigger, which may give them a renewed sense of purpose. 

 

Helps them remember and reminisce:

Familiar prayers, hymns, and religious readings can trigger memories which can help residents remember their life before dementia. Being able to remember the past is often an affirming task for those living with a memory condition.

Their most recent memories can be blurred or forgotten but long term memories may still be clear, the dementia bookcase analogy explains this really well. 

Familiarity is important because dementia can gradually impair a person’s ability to plan and follow through with an activity. Establishing a habit such as attending service can help instil a routine into long-term memory.

Residents at an in-house church service

The Beeches often hosts in-house church services, and was recently joined by local volunteer, Reverend Sue Nutt, who is servicing their local area. 

Bev Shave, deputy manager at Beeches counts this service as a great success. She said, “Our recent church service, hosted in the home itself, was a wonderful bonding experience for our residents. It gave them a chance to come together and pray. Everyone seemed really pleased by this new activity and we look forward to continuing these services in our home.’’

To know more about the happenings at The Beeches nursing home, visit our website www.thebeeches-ixworth.co.uk or call us on 01359 230 773.

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