Lack of Spiritual Care for Parent with Alzheimers

I’m at a loss as to what else to try. My elderly mother lives in a nursing home and suffers from Alzheimers. Her parents were Catholic and she was brought up Catholic. Until she became unable, due to the Alzheimers, she attended mass every day, did a lot of volunteer church work, and generously donated money, However I cannot get anyone from the Catholic church to visit her or bring her communion, I just get excuses about lack of volunteers, the priests are too busy, they have other priorities like feeding street people, etc. She is living in a city with a population of about 400,000 and about twelve catholic churches, so it’s not as if it’s a small rural community with few resources. I tried again to contact someone about this just last week, after receiving yet another appeal in the mail addressed to my mother and asking for money, but while they indicated any money would be welcome visiting my mother just wasn’t possible.

How very sad indeed!

In my town, the various parishes have each taken on a different responsibility of taking Communion to the multitude of nursing homes in the area. You may not neccesarily be receiving it from someone from your own parish. They divide the city into “zones”, and depending on what zone the nursing home is in will dictate what parish is responsible for bringing communion.

Example: I have been a life-long member of parish “A” but now find myself in a nursing home on the west side of town approx 10 miles from my parish. The closest parish to this nursing home is Parish “B”, so they are the ones assigned to bring communion to residents of that nursing home.

They do this for all the hospitals, too; saves a lot of time and travel for the visiting eucharistic ministers so they are not driving all over town.

Please know none of this prevents someone from receiving a visiting EM from their own parish if such arrangements can be made.

Maybe talking to the socialworker at the nursing home might shed some light on the situation?

God bless you.

Don’t be coy. What city is this that you are speaking of?

If you or a confirmed Catholic relative lives nearby you could become an EMHC and bring communion to your mother. Alternatively, you can contact her friends from church and see if any of them will be able to do this. If you contact several, you might be able to arrange rotating shifts to make this easier on those volunteering.
Her friends will need to contact the parish for training, but this is not overly challenging.
May God bless you and your mother and her caregivers. Amen.

You can also contact the diocese, most of them have offices to minister to those with disabilities (including mental disabilities, such as dementias and psychiatric illnesses.) Frequently, the diocese has liasion priests who take Mass to the various nursing homes, either on Saturday afternoon or on Sunday. At the big state hospital that is located in my city, one of the priests who works at the big health-care mission says Mass each Sunday for the psychiatric inpatients at that hospital, and the Mass is well-attended by Catholic staff who have to work on Sundays. It has become almost a personal parish for some of the doctors and some of the long-term residents. I used to volunteer to escort their patients to Mass, the group I escorted took it on themselves to function as greeters and to pass out and collect missal booklets. If a particularly emotionally upset person happened to be attending Mass that day, a couple of the more stable patients from my little escort group took it on themselves to stand next to the upset person and comfort them through the course of Mass. I think it was one of the most heartwarming church volunteer jobs I’ve ever done, and I’m sad that my recent surgery is keeping me from doing it right now.

Anyways, check with the diocese. An individual parish might not have a visiting ministry, but I doubt the diocese would let the poorest of the poor just fall by the wayside.

My priest allowed me to bring the Eucharist to my Mom. She also had Alzheimers.

Maybe you could ask to do same and see how many other Catholics in the home wish to receive.

Thank you all for your kind suggestions. I had contacted the main diocese office for the city, but withouth success. I was just looking for someone from the catholic church to visit her/bring communion, not necessarily someone specifically from the church she had attended. Unfortunately she never had a chance to make friends from the most recent church, because she had only recently moved here from a town over four hundred miles away and then shortly after that was diagnosed with Alzheimers which got worse so quickly it prevented her from attending church.

Please be assured of my prayers. Most parishes I know make it a priority for Eucharistic Ministers to bring Holy Communion to the home bound. I can understand perhaps it may not be every single week in the event someone is sick or there is lack of volunteers, however to never receive does not sound right to me. Have you asked if they can visit her every two weeks or monthly? Is there a social worker in the building that she lives in? My guess is if she is in a care facility in a good-sized city she is not the only Catholic there. Please try calling the office and ask how to arrange this for your mother. Perhaps this is the preferred method. It would be a lot to have several Eucharistic Ministers from several parishes visiting the same nursing home so perhaps someone is designated already.

I am sorry this seems to be giving you a sour feeling. Especially since you made it a point to mention you received a letter asking for money while your mother was being neglected. I assure you Jesus loves your mother very much. Please forgive the people that are making mistakes here, I hope and pray you find spiritual care for your mother I will pray for this. God bless you.

Yes, I would check with the social worker or activities director of the nursing home. Most nursing homes that I have worked at over the years all had groups from the local parish who would come and at least distribute Communion. Sometimes there would even be a Communion service. (Not Mass because they used Consecrated Hosts and the priest wasn’t present). Usually the nursing home has a list of the Catholic residents, which they provide to the visitors.

If you live in the United States, part of the Patient Bill of Rights is access to spiritual care. Talk with the social worker in the nursing home, or the nurse manager on the unit where your mother resides. If they are resistive to the idea, make sure you mention your mother’s right to spiritual care from a representative of the faith of her choice.

catholiccompany.com sells religious articles. Purchase ($12.50-$75.00) a pyx. You may also want the leather burse with neck cord ($11.95). When you go to mass, present the open pyx when you go up to communion. Close the pyx and put it into the burse and take communion for yourself. When my wife couldn’t get to church, that’s how I handled getting communion for her. The key is to do it yourself, rather than wait around and expect someone else to do for you. You aren’t a child anymore.

Reb Levi

This worries me. I worked in a nursing home, and your mom should have access to a minister or chaplain who can nurture her faith. She may have alzheimer’s, but she is still a Catholic. She is still a person of value.

I’m praying for you and your mom. You sound like a wonderful daughter to care so much about her! Taking care of a loved one isn’t easy, and people pass judgements without meaning to sometimes. Know you are doing a good job. I am praying help comes your way.

Perfect example of how to ruin a helpful post. :shrug:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.