Sacrament of the Sick and Early Onset Dementia

I am 54 and have recently been diagnosed with Early Onset Dementia. For years I had a feeling that I might have dementia as I was becoming more and more forgetful and having strange episodes of suddenly not knowing where I was or walking into a bank to make a deposit only to find out that I didn’t have an account at that bank. In the last few months I have been forgetting to feed my cat and make lunch for my mom whom I was caring for (she is with my sister now). Then a few weeks ago my family noticed a worsening of my symptoms. So I decided to ask a priest if I could have the Sacrament of the Sick. He said no, that dementia was not a near occasion of death. This left me devastated. If there is a possiblity that I could have a physcal healing from the Sacrament, I would want to be able to receive the sacrament. Dementia does end in death and is known to progress more rapidly if the person gets this illness early in life. I am wondering if what the priest told me is correct. Thanks for your help.


The requirement isn’t a “near occasion of death” but rather when a person “begins to be in danger of death”. For example, anointing someone who will be undergoing surgery which requires a general anesthetic is normal since this carries with it a risk of death (slim but still present). So a dementia sufferer should definitely be anointed - I’m wondering if your priest is still applying the old thinking whereby the sacrament of the sick was only for those on the brink of death.

That said, the sacrament isn’t so much about physical healing as spiritual - helping you to be in a right relationship with the Lord and growing closer to him through the grace of the sacrament.


@inky, I am sorry that you are going through this. I always wondered if my MIL was aware it was happening to her or not. But maybe you are aware because of your age. I urge you to begin a thread for yourself in the prayer intentions sub-forum where CAF prayer warriors can offer prayers for you each day. Until then, I will keep you in my prayers.


Thank your prayers and suggestion!


Let us know here if you post another thread in prayer intentions. :slightly_smiling_face:


If possible make sure your family members KNOW you want anointing whenever it comes to that time of your illness.


Thanks for the clarification. I do believe that the priest is thinking along the old terms of Extreme Unction. I didn’t know what to say to the priest at the time. Dementia does end in death and I’d rather get assistance while I can still communicate and understand things.


Thank you. Only my sister and husband know right now. I am still looking for a priest who might assist me now.


I am confused over the anointing of the sick. Isn’t receiving the Holy Eucharist the source and summit of our faith? If someone is capable of receiving the Eucharist, why ask for an anointing of the sick? If a person can still have a good confession, why have anointing?

I think of my father-in-law who was a practicing Catholic. He had a brain hemorrhage at home, ended up in the hospital. Here I could understand the anointing of the sick since he would not have been aware that morning that he’d be on death’s door.

PenneyinCanada even if he wasn’t aware he still received the graces from Anointing

Yes, I expect that’s exactly the situation that anointing is for. Being in a coma means he cannot have a last confession or receive the Eucharist.
I’m confused why capable people wish to receive an anointing when they can still receive the sacraments.

Every year my parish has a Mass for the Sick, and will anoint anyone who wishes it. I have heart disease and high blood pressure, so I chose to receive it. I’m not a deathbed case and many others were mobile like me.


The (other) sacraments - i.e. penance and eucharist - complement the sacrament of anointing rather than compete with it. Each has its own particular graces and purposes and, in the case of anointing that purpose is spiritual healing which is part of the penitential character of the sacrament. that doesn’t mean that it’s just for those labouring under venial sin but rather is for those suffering from serious illness and infirmity. Obviously, if a person is unconscious that sacrament really comes into its own since they can’t really receive the Eucharist or receive the sacrament of reconciliation. Again though, it’s not just for these situations - the sacraments are made for us and not us for the sacraments and so, on a human level at least, it’s better when the person is aware of what’s happening since sacraments serve as signs of God’s love for us.


Each sacrament carries different and specific graces and benefits. There is a possibility that the Sacrament of the sick may give a physical healing or it may cause the person to have a spiritual healing more so than regular Confession although a good confession is often part of the sacrament of the sick. I wish to receive incase I might be healed. If I wait until I am near death, there is less chance of physical healing, but I will be satisfied whatever graces God wishes to give to me.

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Good news! I have found a priest who will administer the Sacrament to me! I feel blessed!


Thanks be to God!

Have you started your prayer thread yet? :wink:

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No, I’m kinda new to this forum and not sure how to navigate everything.

Hello everyone. I was able to receive the Sacrament of the Sick last Thursday. When I woke up on Friday morning I felt exceptionally good and my mind was very clear. I have continued to be dementia symptom free. It may be too early to know what has happened, but I praise God for this symptom free time I am having. Thanks to everyone who has prayed for me.


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