Dementia and Hope

Taken from an earlier Blog

When I was undergoing my first diagnosis in Oxford, and was still working, I never let my religious beliefs go.

I suppose I was hoping that my religion would keep me going, and would save me from whatever was coming.

At this time most, clergy prayed for those who were sick, or dying, and it was generally accepted, because these people were usually seriously ill, either at home in bed or in hospital. 

However, I remember reading notes in my old Office diary the other day, that I was at an Evening Service in Oxford and was staggered to hear the priest praying for me.  My wife said that I looked at her in disbelief, and perhaps shock, wondering why I was being prayed for, when I was in church.

I now understand that it is quite common, to pray for everyone who is ill these days, but I confess this did not help me at the time, and left me feeling very confused 

Originally, I had started going to this evening service because it was very quiet compared to the normal Sunday service, and easier to cope with, however by this stage I had forgotten how to say the Lord’s Prayer, and it took a lot of demanding work to bring it all back.

We eventually moved back to my family home in the North East, and we decided to return to my old church where we had been married and where I had been in the choir for over ten years. 

I then realised that the words I had learnt again, were totally different to those being said at the service. After going to a second service where they sang the Lord’s Prayer, I decided enough was enough, simply because I don't cope with constant changes.

By this stage, I simply could not read words and sing at the same time. 

I then found that the Church leaders, from Bishops to Clergy,  were not interested in people with memory problems, because we were told that if I was not happy I should attend the 8 am service on a Sunday morning.

At this point I had been struggling to sleep at night and had very graphic nightmares, which meant that I was just going to sleep at around 4-5am each day, but this was totally ignored by the church when it was mentioned.

Having spoken to a few elderly clergymen over the last few years, they are lost for words when I discuss this, but it sounds as if this is the way modern churches are going

While I struggle to cope with my religious beliefs these days, I can understand why people turn to turn back to religion, to keep them going, and I guess to help them understand meaning of life.

I guess it also gives them” Hope", that small word with a big meaning.

Hope can bring meaning into a person's life, and help them to face challenging times without despair.

Hope is future orientated and experiencing, and "Hope", provides the strength to cope with painful and stressful events, such as receiving a diagnosis of Dementia

Hope gives a person the will power to think a cure may come along, or medication may improve or stop their illness in its tracks.

Finding "Hope" is a means of coping with this illness, and what is happening in our lives, and Professionals need to be aware, that even when "Hope" is unrealistic people must find their own meaning to life

Although I am struggling to cope with my faith these days, I still have "Hope"

I know that even though I lose the ability to do some things, I "HOPE" to fight on, enjoying my family for a bit longer, and enjoying the hobbies I can still do without assistance.

I know that I will never be able to enjoy my faith in the same way as I used to do, because of the constant changes to services and prayers these days, but as one clergyman said recently, that’s the way things are moving in the Church of England and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

To me it feels as if the religious leaders in this country have turned their backs on those who are ill, and struggling with their faith. 

Many clergy say that it's a waste of time performing services in front of those who have memory problems or dementia, because they simply cannot take an active part. If only they took the time to think carefully.

I personally feel that this is the way clergy are trained these days, its not the best way, but with modern Bishops and modern ideas, things like people with dementia etc  are largely forgotten as a waste of effort. In other words the days of pastoral care and visits from clergy are long gone and confined to the history books 

Many people grew up with familiar types of service and forms of prayer, and do not cope with constant changes to services etc.  

Nor do they want to hear long winded sermons, which have no bearing on modern day life. As one elderly vicar once told me, it takes a lot of care and thought to do a sermon which means something these days, otherwise people simply give up all hope and drift off

So, we must all find our own way, and Hope we can carry on as best we can. 

Yes we lose so many hobby's and things we enjoy in life, but we have to adjust and move on, and I guess if that means losing touch with our religion, then so be it. Its not easy but we need to do want is best for us, and forget everything else.


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