Dementia and Alzheimers

I am a convert to the church. Although my Father was (lapsed) Catholic, my mother brought us up to be Lutheran. She always lived faithfully and loyally, was a splendid mother and we love her dearly, even though my ddecision to enter the Catholic church upset her at the time. In time, however, she has come to my wedding in the church, my son’s Christening and Confirmation. She has never drunk to excess, has always worn a cross and watched TV shows with church services , but was almost childlike in her lack of spite or guile. She has always been a believer, but going to her church has been difficult.

Her mind has really become so confused, she is really childlike and having to tell her that her only brother died recently has been awful. Worse, I feel she is having no spiritual input at all. I bought her a bible which she has not touched, a small book of prayers to guardian angels was mmore successful, but she has not had Holy Communion for years-the Lutherans do not have it. Worse still there is no hope of her ever converting now, and she is so unco-operative and demanding, I have to pray for great patience!

Is there any chance that my mother could have the Sacrament of the Sick now she is in this cruel twilight world? I have prayed but have wished so much she could receive our Lord int he Eucharist, that he could be close to her.I know in danger of death this can be administered, but is there any way that it can be done. Her Lutheran pastor is not in evidence at all, as many clergy ‘write off’ Demmentia victims as a waste of time. She told me today how alone she feels. My husband has been wonderfully supportive, and my son helps too.Has anyone any advice? Live in UK.

It seems to me that you, your husband, and son are trying to do the best you can, even though you are facing challenges and difficulties with her.

I hope you have received specialist advice, because there is a general path that this illness takes, and you do need information, understanding, and support.

If your mother has Dementia and Alzheimers, she may be losing the ability to read and/or to understand anything complex. Saying a simple prayer in her presence may be the best thing, even something as simple as a sentence of prayer to Jesus, not anything complicated. If she is becoming or has become like a child…as as that indeed happens, then remember that Jesus loves little children.

From your description, your mother has been a good Christian, and this is not changed by the less appealing aspects of the effect of the disease upon her. Those she cannot really help.
I think You can trust your mother to our loving God, without being anxious about her before God. My prayers for her, your husband and your son, and for you.

It is perfectly possible for her to receive Anointing, as one does not even need to be conscious, just alive, for that to be done.

A priest could tell you more about Communion.

God Bless and ICXC NIKA

First of all, my deepest sympathy on the loss of your uncle. Likewise you are in my thoughts as you journey with your mom into the mists of Alzheimer’s. My wife suffers from the disease as well.

To you question. My advice is to contact your parish priest tomorrow. Don’t delay, and talk this over with him. It’s even possible that he might know the local Lutheran pastor.
Regardless - he will be able to answer your question about your mom receiving the sacrament of the sick. Even if he cannot do the actual sacrament there is no reason why he can’t pray with you and possibly visit your mom.
He will likely be able to give you some advice too on handling the stresses.

The thing to remember about your mom is that she can no longer sin. The disease has taken away her ability to reason. What you write about her before the dementia set in shows that she likely does not have any mortal sins on her soul so I’d be pretty confident of her ultimate salvation. After all, she is baptized.

As an aside, and forgive me if I’m telling you things you already know…
This is going to be a long journey, and in many ways is harder on the caregiver(s) than on the patient. Make sure you learn all you can about the progression, available options for living arrangements etc. Is you dad still alive? If so it’s really important to keep an eye on him and his health as well.

God bless you and your family.


I’m so sorry to hear about your uncle, and that you have lost some of your mother, too.

My mother has dementia, and it was very useful to me to listen to a lecture for dementia caregivers given by a geriatric nurse. Among the things I learned was that it was not necessary to re-orient my mom to difficult realities. If I were to tell her that her parents and sisters were dead whenever she asked about them, she’d have to relieve that shock and grief every time, and to no good purpose. In a few minutes, she would forget again. Rather, when she asks after them, I learned to tell her, “They can’t be here right now. What can I help you with?” Sometimes she just wants assurance that they are OK, sometimes something else, but it has helped us both a lot for me to realize that there is essentially nothing she needs that will be helped by a reminder that she only has one living family member.

That’s just one example of many. Those who have gone this way have a lot to teach about how to navigate the waters of this new country that you and your mom are travelling through. I believe it will lighten your load greatly to learn as much from them about the terrain as you can.

What others have to teach us doesn’t make dementia easy to cope with, but it can make it far easier. I think what others have to teach will also help you with regards to your mother’s continuing sense of spirituality. I hope you can find someone to guide you.

So, so sorry to hear your concerns about your mom. She sounds like she was a very good mother! God bless her and your family!

My mother also has dementia and it seems it is progressing really fast! She went to the Salvation Army and bought herself a teddy bear so she can make up her family (My dad has been dead for 9 years and has bought her a couple of teddie bears when he was alive)…but…buying one is totally out of character for her. She was never a nurturing mother to any of us except for the baby. Now, she wants to baby teddy bears! :shrug:

Lord, teach me to take one day at a time. I pray also for your pateince (as well as mine)…[BIBLEDRB][/BIBLEDRB]

Pray for her total healing. Pray to Blessed John Paul II, who as far as I know had Parkinson’s which I think is a neurological disease. He might be able to help you mother.

Ask your mother if she would like to pray with you. Prayer is very powerful, especially when you pray with the people you love most. It doesn’t matter what you pray for, just as long as you pray a lot, and make it part of everything you do with other people.

It might be possible to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia. I’m not sure, but anything is possible with God. If your mother is willing, try to get her some recordings of music by Bach. Bach is very good for the mind, and he was a devout Lutheran composer. His compositions are very Lutheran, and honestly I think the best religious music ever composed. Get some of his cantatas. I wish he was a Catholic, but hey, what can I do about that you know? I know he was a good Christian, so I can’t hold it against him that he was raised Lutheran. Martin Luther King was a Baptist minister. But he was the first person who taught me who Jesus was in a way I could understand. Then I learned of John Paul II when he died and he led me to the Catholic Church. So you never know who will lead you down one path or another, and what will inspire someone. Maybe your mother will become Catholic, who knows. The important thing is that you love her with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength and love God even more than that. She loves you. She knows you love her. Just keep the faith, and keep praying, keep hoping, keep believing, and keep loving.

God bless you,

My Lady has a teddy bear too. My “job” is to dress him up and her “job” is to undress him…:stuck_out_tongue: I go to the dollar store buy little things to put on him just so she’ll have more stuff to pull off of him. I got infant socks, a baby’s headband, a baseball outfit with a “bat” and “ball” that I could slip on his little arms, and a soldier outfit with a little hat and flashlight…
The more stuff I can put on him the better…
Anything that captures their attention and keeps them safe, relatively happy and quiet is a good thing.
Our Living Room is beginning to resemble more and more a “play-pen” in some ways. :thumbsup:


While I cannot say for all forms of dementia, at present there is no way to medically reverse Alzheimer’s. The best that can be done is to hold off the onset and severity of some of the symptoms. But the actual progress of the disease is not affected.

As for the possibility of a miracle, indeed all things are possible with God.
You can be sure that I prayed fervently for my lady to be cured and have promised God to use such a cure to bring others to Him.
Alas, my lady has not been cured and I have reached the conclusion that God’s purpose in this is not to cure her but to save her, and to help me to grow in virtue.
God’s Will be done.


One of my sisters likes to use faith as a weapon (evil missionaries forcing religion on people in exchange for food, etc) emailed me once that my mother is lucky to have me and one other sister to help her with her struggles with dementia (none of the others, including her, help at all). She actually quoted Blessed Mother Teresa in the email. I thought at the time, and again when I read this, that I am not Mother Teresa. No amount of praying has bought me such grace and peace. I pray all the time that my heart will understand, but I am just not there.
As for the OP, please contact a priest. If you are unsuccessful with the first priest, try another priest. I will keep you and your mother in my prayers.

Thank you all for your support at this time. It means a lot. Mum said yesterday in a lucid moment that she felt as if she did not belong to the human race and is feeling it as well and what would happen if sshe got worse. I am on holiday at the moment, but am worried for my sister who is the main carer. I think we are at the end of our tether.At the mmoment we are giving respite to her and she has an army of care people, but I guess I feel guilty that all our love can’t help her where she is going. My thoughts are with all of you in similar circumstances . I don;t think there is any normal way to reverse it, but your advice is gold…thank you so much. I will pray for you all.

Thank you James. My Dad died young in 1974, and she has never really got over it, but in some ways it is a blessing now.

Dear one,
Do not sell yourself short. Love you mum - and keep on loving her. Tell her she’s important, tell her she is beautiful, tell her you love her. give her hugs and little kisses if she will accept them. Hold her hand. Let her know that someone will be there for her.
Our Loved ones have given us so much. Let’s give back to them.

Your mom’s comment about not feeling like part of the human race, is not at all uncommon. She finds it more and more difficult to connect. Unfortunately the same can be said for the caregiver. They too can become very disconnected from the world. It’s good that you are there for you sister.

Thanks for the prayers…:thumbsup:


Sounds like perhaps your sister might be learning something if she is quoting Mother Theresa…

I know what you mean about others thinking we are “saints”. I’ve been told that by others too. They don’t realize what we go through or the many times we cry (or want to), the anger, frustration and bouts of depression. But then again, I have noticed that I am improving in certain areas (like my temper).
That’s what I mean when I say that God uses this to improve my virtues. When I struggle with Karol and get frustrated because I can’t make her understand me, I think of all the times that God tried to get me to understand…How He ever had the patience with me, I’ll never know…:blush:
I’ve learned so much on this journey about Love, patience and forbearance.


Good point James, and thank you for taking the trouble to reply.It is good to share. My poor sister has tried really hard as we all have, but all the advice has been very very good, and I will pray for you and your Mum. All very sad. I read today that Salt in the diet has proved to have been very bad in the disintegration of the brain. I am going downstairs now and will have to put on a smile for her. Thank you all for what you have shared. It is good she is incapable of sinning now, and she is a very good mother-and human being, I am just sorry she has not come into our church as well, but feel sure Our Lord will rreceive her.

Thank you everyone for sharing. It would bbe good to have a programmme about this in Catholic Answers. Yes I have learned a lot myself, and have plumbed reserves of patience and love I never thought I had.

You are most welcome. It’s no trouble.
You mentioned about a program here, there IS a group here for caregivers. It’s not dementia specific but you might want to check out…
Also - The Alzheimer’s association has a forum. I’ve used the one here in the US and been very blessed by it. I checked and it appears there is one in the UK as well. Go HERE, then look down on the left side for the “forums”. Takes a couple of clicks to get into them but then you can peruse them for information and/or join and ask questions, offer advice, vent or whatever.


James, I am so glad that you said this. While I hadn’t actually thought of it this way, you are right. I think that this thought will be a help for those of us struggling with family members in varying states of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

call your Catholic pastor and describe the situation he can best advise you. Theoretically any baptized person could receive the sacrament of anointing of the sick, unless there is more to the story we don’t know. Whether or not she could receive Eucharist I don’t know, bu the priest does, especially as her own clergy is not responding.

Do bear in mind that in persons whose intellectual capacities are diminished for whatever reason, that faith and knowledge of God are not dependent on intellectual activity alone. When scripture tells us the Holy Spirit takes over when we are unable to pray, that is literally true. The Holy Spirit acts in the person who is in the state of grace in his own way, his own time, usually not discernable to bystanders. Her spiritual life is now directed by God himself.

This is beautiful. I think it explains some (subtle) things I’ve seen in my Dear Wife over the years. Thank you for sharing.
Could you point to the Scripture passage that you reference above? Thanks.


Thank you, that is very lovely puzzleannie…Eve x

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