ABC’s of Alzheimer’s Ministry

(This month I wanted to share this great article written by Dr. Pat Otwell, used with permission).

Have you ever wanted to help a person who has Alzheimer’s disease but we aren’t sure what to do? Next time you are faced with this dilemma, let the following suggestions come to your rescue. Some of these acts can be performed by individuals, whereas other recommendations are appropriately undertaken as projects by Sunday School classes, youth groups, or mission organizations.

 ADVOCATE by contacting local, state, and national lawmakers to request increased funding for Alzheimer’s research and to enact legislation that will improve quality of life.
BE a friend-no matter what.
CONTACT those affected by Alzheimer’s frequently to see if there are practical needs you can meet.
DONATE a book about Alzheimer’s to a church or public library.
ENROLL a patient in the Safe Return program sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association and pay the annual fee (if applicable).

FAMILIARIZE yourself with non-verbal techniques to facilitate communication with patients.
GIVE a Gideon Bible in honor of a patient.
HIRE a home health aide to stay with a patient for a few hours each week to enable the family to have a time of respite.
INVITE patients and families to attend church socials and make them feel welcome.
JOKE sensitively to relieve tension.
KEEP abreast of services, programs, and other resources that are available for patients and families.
LEARN as much as possible about the nature of Alzheimer’s disease and how it affects patients.
MAKE a Scripture Box of God’s promises to give patients and families as a source of encouragement.
NEVER argue with patients since this leads to agitation and makes matters worse.
OFFER transportation to a patient and spouse when attending worship services.
PRAY for specific needs of patients and families as well as a cure for the disease.
QUELL patients’ fears by listening to their concerns and offering reassurance.
RELY on the Holy Spirit to guide you.
SEND cards on special occasions such as anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays.
TAKE a home-cooked meal to a patient and family at least once a month.

UNITE with members of other congregations to provide support groups for families and specialized worship opportunities for patients.
VISIT periodically as an expression of your love and a tangible reminder of God’s love.
WATCH out for patients’ safety.
Xcuse irrational and eccentric behaviors.
YIELD momentarily to patients’ needs instead of your own.
ZERO in on what the experience must be like for a patient who has Alzheimer’s and minister as you would want others to minister to you if you had the disease.

Reproduced with permission of the Author.

© 2009 by Pat Otwell. Dr. Pat Otwell is the author of Guide to Ministering to Alzheimer’s Patients and Their Families published by Taylor & Francis
(Routledge imprint). The book can be purchased at and


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