How Spiritual Care Supports Those with Memory Loss
January 19, 2018
When we embrace vulnerability in our loved ones and ourselves, it can lead to wholeness and spiritual strength.
I am kind of a health nut – I do things daily that I hope will protect me from disease and slow the aging process. Yet even with a healthy lifestyle we all become physically vulnerable as we age. For many people vulnerability is equated with weakness, a dreaded sensation for someone who has been independent such as my 96 year old mother. She has been fiercely independent and taken care of others her entire life. Recently her vision declined so quickly that she is now almost completely blind. She said to me last week “I feel very vulnerable. I can do so little for myself these days.” My father who died 8 years ago, remained physically quite strong until his dementia accelerated and he declined rapidly. He complained at times of feeling “feeble and weak” as he felt himself change. He too could no longer care for himself.
We still tend to marginalize those in cognitive decline. We certainly underestimate how dementia affects all family members; I hear this in our support meetings. Our loved ones are indeed vulnerable and may appear weak, but the New Testament has a very different notion of power and weakness than does the world we are born into. In 2Corinthians 12:8-9, the Apostle Paul is telling about a conversation he had with Christ. He talks to Jesus three times about his frustrating “thorn in the flesh”. Then Paul hears Christ say these words to him:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
The word “perfect” in the New Testament can also be translated as “whole” or “complete”. Paul is saying that when we are weak and vulnerable, Christ’s power is made whole in us and for us. God is most present in the times we are weak and struggling to hang onto our humanity The hard part? Remembering we are whole when we feel vulnerable and weak. When our loved one with memory loss no longer remembers who they are, we can remember for them. We can remember who they were in their fullness and strength, and embrace this for them as they are vulnerable. We can remember for them that they are whole and beloved, made perfect and complete in Christ. They and you are God’s beloved creation, forgiven, and forever made new; “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Grace and peace to you as you embrace the changes of older adulthood in yourselves and those you love.
Rev. Lette Gamble
At Emerald Crest, we offer a deep knowledge of memory care in a specialized assisted living setting for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related conditions. We encourage you to contact us directly with any questions or request a tour. For tours and general information, please contact Christine Drasher at 952-908-2215.
For questions about our spiritual care program and Caregiver’s Meal and Meeting, or if you would like spiritual care and support for you or your loved one, contact Rev. Lette Gamble at 612-554-6379 or firstname.lastname@example.org.