Dementia and Religious beliefs

Many like myself start out in life with a strong belief in their religion which ever one that may be depending on where they live and perhaps where they were brought up.

However over the years they may well let these beliefs slide into the back ground either because, of a busy life style, or because their faith is sliding away from them.

I think I fall into the second section, and that is because, I struggled to hang on to my religious beliefs when I was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, partly because I lost control over my life as it was, and partly because there was little if any support from our religion, the Church of England.

Today I don't think things are any better, simply because as many have said, the Church is either not geared up to support people with this illness or memory problems, or they simply don't care these days.

Yet many of these people are elderly, the same people who keep many parish churches in funds on a regular basis, and once they give up the churches will end up closing , simply because of lack of care.

Our church does not forget the elderly when they need more funds, as they are the first ti be asked for more money, so is this totally wrong.

Years ago the parish Priest or there Assistant whether a curate or deacon, would always go to see the sick, and those in need, even though in those days they worked 5-6 days a week.

These days in our parish they don't even work that, yet they say that they cannot afford the time to look at the needs of those who need support either religious or anything else.

Yet the lay people do their work for them when asked, official or not I do not know, but by all accounts they are doing the work of the full time clergy.

When I became ill I was startled by the fact the I could not remember the Lords Prayer something I knew from an early age, so I changed services at the church we were attending at the time, because it was quieter and more relaxing.

Eventually after the diagnosis was confirmed, I lost my job as an engineer, and three weeks later my mother died, so the family decided that we should return to the family home which was now empty.

On our return I had to go through the process of the diagnosis all over again, because the first hospital had lost all of my notes.

But on completion of that I was given medication to help me through my illness.

After around 6 months I returned to the church where I had grown up in, and had been in the choir for around 10 years, thinking life would return to near normal.

I then found to my horror that the words I had struggled to learn all over again " Lords Prayer" did not match those being used at the service, in fact the whole service was vastly different.

The same happened over the next few weeks with different variations of Lords Prayer etc, so much so that I wondered what I was doing there.

During this time I had also lost the ability to sing and follow the words in a hymn book etc, so life was very difficult.

My wife spoke to the Parish Priest, who simply shrugged his shoulders, as if to say , so what.

There idea is that if services are changed around people don't get bored, or something like that.

So in the end I simply gave up and my religion went by the board.

I was very sad when this happened, because it proved that the comments I had heard from everyone else, bore out my thoughts, that the church of England no longer cared about anyone with brain or memory problems.

I desperation I wrote to a Bishop thinking I would get a good reply, perhaps I was stupid or nieve, but I got a shock when the reply came back, as he obviously did not read my letter.

I had explained that I have problems with very graphic nightmares and dreams during the night, and don't get to sleep properly until around 5 am in the morning.

But he told me to get up and go to the 8am service on a Sunday where I would have no further problems. what is the point of going somewhere when you are very tired and cannot think straight

After this I have not been back, and have no intention of returning, to a place where people don't care.

I have learnt since then that people like the Methodists, have vastly different ways of dealing with this and are more caring easy to follow, and what is more the sermons, are short and to the point and not political as we see these days.

So perhaps I will end up changing my religion, if that's what it takes to enjoy a good quality of life

Our old canon used to tell people in the 1960s that if you cannot do a sermon and get your point over in 10 minuets, then you are not up to the job. Make it short and too the point.

Its so sad that the church cannot fulfil this part of my Spirituality, but perhaps I have many other parts that I can look back on with great pride.

All I can say is that there is little wonder that the churches these days are in a mess, and perhaps its only a matter of time before they all close and end up as museums or public houses.


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