Marysue Moses, Ebenezer and Martin Luther’s Dimensions Program Coordinator, shares her thoughts in regards to the Ten Steps in Spiritual Formation and the value of spirituality for dementia patients:
In grad school about a decade ago, I ran across an article that provides guidance, inspiration and reassurance for exhausted dementia care partners. Is there anyone out there caring for a person with dementia who is NOT exhausted at this time of year? If so, please send me YOUR insights to share in a future blog!
Wayne Ewing’s article, “Land of Forgetfulness: Dementia Care as Spiritual Formation,” recounts his journey as caregiver for his wife who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease at age 55. Wayne quickly realized that his skills as a clergyman and educator, while relevant, were not the entire package of what he needed in order to cope with the change in his “Beloved,” as he calls her, and to navigate the transformed waters of their relationship.
Wayne considered the wide range of needs that both he and his Beloved now had to contend with. He figured them out one by one and in time, Wayne discovered that he could meet his Beloved in the present moment. As they walked together in a pine forest near their home, he marveled at and shared in the delight and awe she expressed at the beauty around them.
This led Wayne to begin to ruminate on the Alzheimer’s Association’s Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Using an impressive knowledge of many religious traditions and spiritual scribes, he imagined how all those (scary and depressing sounding) warning signs might be looked at in a new light, the light of spiritual formation. He handily spun that list into Ten Steps in Spiritual Formation, pointing out the following:
I thought I would wrap up the blog right there. But no. Here goes.
My beloved husband died of cancer over 5 years ago. He was on hospice for a little over two months, and bedridden for just a week and a half. Phil was an extremely smart, hyper-witty, charming, snarkily funny guy. He had been an actor since he was 6 years old. He could be very loud on occasion. It was amazing to see Phil become so quiet in his last weeks. While it didn’t occur to me at the time to use the term “dementia” for anything that was going on with him, it was several years later that I suddenly realized that he actually was exhibiting dementia symptoms in his last 10 days: trouble with language and motor skills, disorientation, nonsensical speech, lack of initiative. For a time, our verbal communication consisted of him whispering the last few words of whatever I had just said to him back to me. But one day, he departed from that pattern. When I said, “I love you,” he replied, “I love you too.” How one little word can mean the world! That was the last thing he said to me, or anyone. I had assumed I’d be playing all sorts of his favorite music as the end drew near, but instead, it felt to me like he was very busy inside (and things were probably noisy enough). It seemed that the spiritual journey he was on required his entire focus and attention. I think (and hope) that was the right call.
At Martin Luther, we value the importance of Spiritual Health for our residents. We provide Spiritual Care, Pastoral Care, Weekly Worship and other spirituality services.
Martin Luther Campus is part of the Ebenezer family of Lutheran Senior Care Communities. We provide transitional care and assisted living apartments for seniors in Bloomington. We also have adult day clubs and memory care programs for seniors living at home. We’re located at 1401 East 100th St. Bloomington, MN. Are you interested in transitioning to assisted living or do you have a loved one that needs assisted living? Call us at 952.888.775
Director of Community Relations
Hello friends, my name is Kate and I'd love to share with you ALL of the wonderful things happening at Martin Luther Campus. Be sure to check our Blog, Lifestyle page and Facebook page often to stay updated on the happenings at our community!