Alzeheimers / memory loss & Sacrements


What sacraments should a person with Alzehimers / memory loss seek/recieve … How frequent should they recieve these sacraments?

It has been said on this site that if a person with Alzehimers hits their caregiver that it’s a venial sin, so confession may not be needed … So I’m confused how sacraments works for those who can’t remember Jesus, their family, & friends on how sacraments help these souls.


Can they/ should they recieve the Eucharist ( how frequent ). What happens to the body of Christ in the form of the Eucharistic if they spit out the Eucharist? Should there be an “anointing of the sick” minister (frequency)?


Lutherans would tell you that the person needs the Body and Blood more than ever. That even though they may have forgotten Jesus, Jesus hasn’t forgotten them.

If this goodly person were to spit out the Body, we would dilute it until it was no more and put the remainder in the sacrarium and trust in Christ’s love.


Sorry I don’t know for sure but I think I was told the person should receive the sacrament of the sick instead of the Eucharist,unless they still have awareness/comprehension of what the Eucharist mean.
Alzheimers/all Dementias vary from person to person,with different symptoms,so I guess it would be best to talk with a Father about the individuals personal situation.

Alot more education need to be taught about Dementia.
People often think it’s just a memory problem and well meaning people-including Catholics-often have a wrong picture of it and hope and believe that on some level the sufferer has awareness.
This is the case for some with Dementia,but for others they lose ALL awareness,severe cognition and “behavioural” difficulties.
Severe personality changes and aggression or swearing or hitting etc can be common.
So I wish people would stop painting this Rosy wishful thinking version of Dementia that it’s just about memory stuff because for some it’s much much worse and they end up getting stigmatised due to behavioural changes that they can’t help.
Some also have delusions and hallucinationa,it doesn’t just happen with Schizophrenia,but that’s never talked about because of stigma.

To me it seems upsetting that it’s a venial sin even when people with Dementia etc hit because they have no control or desire over their perceptions or actions and if they had fully functional minds and will,they wouldn’t intentionally choose to do those things.
We don’t say that a dog with Rabies who bites people is making a venial sin so why is it applied to humans who have an illnesses that can control them in similar fashion?


I’d probably talk with the priest and as long as he were willing, I’d keep bringing the person with dementia communion. My mother in law died of alzheimers after 8 long years of suffering through it. It was hell and I honestly saw my husband age 2 years for every 1 she had it. We tried to keep her with us in our home–until she almost burned our house down making bacon and eggs one morning at about 0300 while we were all asleep. If I hadn’t accidentally woke up, I’d be writing this from the afterlife I’m pretty sure. The problem is that nobody really knows what someone with alzheimers or dementia does or doesn’t know–or when. They may recognize you one morning and by that night not have a clue. And as to someone with dementia hitting someone being a venial sin–I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that at all. The person with dementia often doesn’t even realize what they have done when they do it–though 5 minutes later they may be reasonably lucid. I would never say they sinned. If nothing else, I think the misery of living with their disease has to counter-balance any outburst they have. :shrug:


You are correct. People with Alzheimers can be aware of Who they are receiving for a long time, even if they cannot recognize or talk to us. Remember, the long term memory is usually the last to go. I know a priest who was bringing Communion to a patient in her 90’s and who had not spoken to her family members for a long time. When he raised the Host before her and said “The Body of Christ” she answered “Amen”. Another, who had not said anything, moments after swallowing, started singing one of the old Communion hymns. Her daughter was present and was astonished. She immediately joined her mother in singing the hymn, with tears of joy trickling down her face.

As for sin, any hitting, etc., is totally sinless for these patients. Their powers of reasoning have been seriously compromised and they are as innocent as small children.


Where? Can you find that quote?

This makes no sense at all. :rolleyes:


I cannot believe that a person with dementia who hits someone commits a sin! I was nursing a lady with a terminal condition of Alzheimer’s Disease (who also was a diabetic). Every time I tried to give her the necessary dose of Insulin (via injection) she would hit, bite & kick. Yet, when she went to meals, she was quite lucid. The last time I took care of her, this 4’7" lady THREW me across the room into the edge of the door jamb by grabbing my lab coat. I had a crushed tibia (just one year after having my patella- kneecap to laypersons- fractured.) The leg never healed properly, and I was forced into retirement. Did I blame her? Was I angry at her? Of course not!!! She didn’t realize what she was doing, and the behavior change was due to her disease, not intent.

As for receiving the Sacraments, I had a personal experience with this and not a good one. My Aunt died of advanced Dementia. When she was nearing the end, the only word she could say to any comment or question was “no”, with a lovely smile! When I read prayers or Scripture to her, she would smile, close her eyes and be very quiet and calm. I asked my priest to allow me to take the Blessed Sacrament to her (I was a Homebound Minister of the Eucharist then) and he said “no one with dementia can receive the Sacraments!” I was a long time forgiving that Priest, since my Aunt died a week later, and the Priest came to the burial service and blessed her coffin, but would not come to see her that last week or administer ANY Sacraments. My Aunt was not violent, and would consume anything put into her mouth. She seemed to follow or at least understand Scripture, even though she couldn’t speak. If a person can swallow, and does not spit out the Holy Eucharist, I think it should be administered to them as long as possible, especially when it is obvious the end is near. Certainly he could at least have administered the Anointing! :confused:


Here is an answer to the communion question from Jimmy Akin’s site.


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