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Spiritual and Religious Activities Offer Another Way to Connect with Dementia Patients and Enrich Their Lives

Dementia patients and their families both experience loss, with the patient often frustrated at the loss of ability and independence, and the families saddened by the loss of the loved one that they knew. Struggling to find ways to connect, family members often find that they can still connect with their loved one by tapping into the long-term memories of their loved ones, spending visits talking about events from many years ago.

A recent article in the Washington Post titled “Congregations Attempt to Meet the Religious Needs of People with Dementia” by Adelle M. Banks suggests another way in which dementia patients and their loved ones and caregivers can connect. The article details the benefits of connecting dementia patients with their long-held spiritual beliefs through spiritual activities and services, as a patient’s spiritual or religious beliefs or memories also often remain in some form long past the deterioration of a patient’s short-term memory. The article cites a statistic from the Centers for Disease Control that 5.7 million Americans have Alzheimer’s Disease, and double that number will have the disease by 2040. Studies have found that involving dementia patients with spiritual and religious activities provides a better quality of life for the patients. The patients often still remember songs and prayers in which they can participate, and the patients report a feeling of community and self-worth as a result of participating in the services.

When I read the article, I immediately thought of my grandmother who died at the age of 92 and, before being admitted to a nursing facility, attended mass every morning at her church in Atlanta. Her faith formed the core of her life, and losing the ability to attend mass pained her. I know that she would have benefited from participating in spiritual activities at her nursing home, and it would have been a good opportunity for our family to spend time with her. Spiritual activities provide family members and caregivers with another opportunity to connect with dementia patients in a way that will improve their quality of life.

If you have questions about this or any other Family Law issue please contact Catherine H. “Kate” McQueen at (240) 507-1718 or


ABOUT KATE MCQUEEN | 240-507-1718

Catherine H. “Kate” McQueen is a family lawyer and principal in Offit Kurman’s Bethesda office and is licensed to practice in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Ms. McQueen focuses her practice on the many legal issues that impact families, including all the issues arising out of a divorce, such as custody, child support, alimony, and other financial and property issues. She also has extensive experience in guardianship matters for children and incapacitated adults, including assisting clients in petitioning for guardianship, serving as court-appointed counsel for alleged disabled persons, and serving as court-appointed guardian for individuals when their family members or friends are unwilling or unable to do so.






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