A recent health scare has me slightly concerned…

If one suffers from dementia, are those acts that that person may commit held against them? If one tries their best to lead a Christian life before dementia, but turns nasty and mean due to dementia, is that held against them at the time of Judgement?

I go in for cognitive testing soon. Hopefully this is nothing. I’m only 46.

Impaired mental facility usually mitigates against an action being a mortal sin. I would however, talk to a qualified priest to answer your question more fully.

And my prayers and hopes for your testing to come to a positive end.


Dementia is caused by brain damage - there is no culpability for actions done when one is not able to will them.

I’ll pray for you.

I hope your testing is enlightening and give you peace on what you are to do.

I watched the EWTN series, “Remembering Jesus”, which was about Alzheimer’s disease. I had hoped they would cover more on the spiritual effects of the disease and sacraments needed. Instead, it offered good advice on how to avoid the disease and how the community could support each other better.

“Sundowners” & "hallucinations " are very scary aspects of memory loss. Recently my charity group was diverted from the Senior Care facility because one patient killed his roommate; both suffering from Alzheimer’s in a lock down facility.

Since many with memory loss issues come and go from a place where they know right from wrong. Many times they experience a memory from a distant past and live in that moment for a long time. Current experiences tend to be forgotten faster than distant memories.

My MIL has memory loss issues, and sundowners. I am urging my FIL & husband to get the sacrament of anointing of the sick and a Eucharist minister to bring my MIL Jesus. My preference would be to have the sacrament twice a year & Eucharist weekly. However, I am getting resistance because they fear she will refuse the sacrament and Eucharist. Pray for some spiritual common sense to be blessed upon them!

If I were to be diagnosed I would first want a schedule of the sacraments and then practical care outlined. However, as medical benifits are changing rapidly, it is unknown what to expect! Again, God bless you on this journey and give you peace to your soul.

Thank you all. I will pray for all of you tonight.

No, only actions committed with the consent of the will can be “held against” someone.

Any sort of change of behavior directly caused by dementia (or any other disease that affects the brain) cannot possibly be sinful.

I will be sure to keep you and your situation in my prayers!

(I am a priest, by the way—though, if you find it helpful, I do encourage you to speak in person with a priest near you.)

Thank you lmelahn. :slight_smile:

Thank you for being a priest!

Does a person suffering from a memory loss disease need sacraments on a frequent basis? If so, what is recommended on the frequency of receiving such sacraments? Or if a person receives an anointing of the sick at the start of the diagnosis does this cover years of them living with the disease? I know that practicing Catholics need the sacrament of reconciliation and Eucharist once a year, during Easter season … but what applies to long term Catholics suffering from memory loss?

I have not found any writing as a guideline for the numerous people I encounter with these problems. It would be nice to be able to direct myself and my friends to such church guidelines.

I don’t think there are any written guidelines, but I just went through this situation with my mom (who passed away recently).

I don’t think that there is any special reason to receive the sacraments more frequently, although they may be a great source of comfort to the person. Receiving reconciliation and Communion once a year are, of course, bare minimums, and people are encouraged to receive them much more frequently.

With dementia, of course, there eventually comes a point at which Confession is no longer necessary (or even possible), because the person is not really responsible for his actions. In that case, the requirement of going to confession at least once a year no longer holds. (In any case, it only holds for those people who are conscious of mortal sin—which is clearly not the case for victims of dementia.)

However, there is no reason to prevent persons with dementia (even severe dementia) from receiving Communion as often their situation allows. In fact, I would highly recommend that.

As for anointing of the sick, since dementia as such is not life-threatening (much as it is very difficult), I would generally wait until a situation of greater danger arose (that is, some more definite illness) before administering it. However, I would say that a victim of dementia who asks for the sacrament and wants to receive it while he is still reasonably aware could be given it. It may be administered as often as necessary (e.g., whenever the person suffers a worsening of the condition, or a new crisis).

Thank you Imhelan.

Now I’m curious about priests who have dementia. We are struggling with getting affordable care for our MIL. As we give to the retired Priests fund, I’m certain some have memory loss. I would imagine a $10,000/per month cost for a nursing home is out. Is there a group of monks or nuns who take care of these priests? I pray there is.

Another dementia/memory loss question:

Can a person with memory loss/dementia have a bad spirit lingering around them from previous in life? I know from another Priest that actual joining with a bad spirit is rare, however, bad spirit can linger around the person.

I remember when I was 15 years old and saw my first person with Alzheimer’s. I immediately thought, “Dear God, there is a demon controlling her”. Understand at 15 I believed in God, but was rebellious. I was very unaware of my faith. I had never seen scary movies like “the exorcist.” I still get goose bumps thinking about that lady.

It also seems with the sundowners that they get overcome with a bad spirit. Now that you have enlightened about the nature of sin and dementia, the focus shifts from the patient to the caregivers. Should a person with dementia have bad spirits influencing them and causing trouble for the caregiver, what might the caregiver do to protect their environment from such things?

Now, most of the people I know with dementia are actually calm and spacey … but the few who are extreme scare me!

I spend time doing activities in a residential care facility. We have people from 40 to over 100 there. People with physical disabilities and also people with Dementia.

There are retired religious, Nuns, Brothers, and Clergy. The resident Priest is getting on in years himself, and has started to be a little forgetful during Mass. But thats ok, he has tonnnes of backup! The Bishop Emeritus, again , getting on in years, comes in to celebrate Masses too.

Mass is said daily, and there are other religious devotions and activities, as well as secular activities.

I spend most time in with the Dementia residents. I have to say, they can be a lot of fun. We laugh. The amazing thing is , no matter where a mind is at, the person always knows when they are in Mass, Rosary or Stations of the Cross. That stuns me. And words to prayers and hymns, still there.

Initially, some residents find the adjustment challenging, may not understand why they cant go home, where they are, whats going on. Some can be fearful or angry, but with love the anxiety goes away mostly, and the person settles into routine, makes friends, finds fav activities to do.
No demonic activity anywhere. :innocent:

I’ll pray for you.

I hope and pray that if I need a caregiver, they are as wonderful as you are. Thank you for this reassuring post. :slight_smile: <3

I want everyone to know how thankful I am for the responses here. While I don’t think it is as serious as I may have led you all to believe, I am forgetting things and had a major mess-up while seeing my neurologist. We are going to do a neuro-psyche test soon - just to be sure everything is okay.

Thank you all.

No, Alzheimer’s itself can, unfortunately, provoke rather strange behavior in some patients.

However, it is not related to demonic possession (which has very different symptoms).

(Note that the Exorcist, whatever merits it has as a movie, is really not a good source for understanding demonic possession.)

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