As Margaret Smith’s memory faded, her daughter Dianne Watson wanted one thing to stay clear in her mind: the hope and promise of the gospel. “I struggled trying to bring the Bible to my mum through the years as her dementia got worse,” shares Dianne, a member of St Luke’s Anglican Church Miranda. “As she stopped speaking and became bedridden, it was hard to know what she was thinking, and whether she was understanding anything.”
Margaret Smith spent her last years residing in HammondCare Miranda where Dianne would visit and read Scriptures aloud. She found that her mother responded best when shown Bible verses with visual aids.
When Dianne heard that HammondCare were working on a series of resources designed to help people living with dementia continue their faith, she was overjoyed. She told HammondCare she would “love a simpler way of sharing the whole story of Jesus with my mum...something that could take me through all of the special promises that she might recognise and remember, even though she couldn’t say she did.”
‘Faith for Life: Biblical Resources for people with dementia’ acknowledges the profound dignity of the person with dementia and their desire to explore and express faith while also recognising changing needs.
The quality and practicality of the resources was what most impressed Rev Andrew Nixon, HammondCare head of pastoral care.
“I’m really excited to have a Bible-based resource to help people living with dementia to grow and be encouraged in their spiritual life.”
Developed through extensive and ongoing consultation with families, carers and people living with dementia, the resources can be used by anyone at any stage of their spiritual journey. Materials include A4 and A5 cards, devotional books and spiral bound desktop devotions. The resources feature captivating imagery and themed devotional material including Bible verses, prayers, lines from familiar hymns and in some cases, use of related objects.
Although Margaret passed before the resources were complete, Dianne has since used them in her role as a volunteer at HammondCare Miranda. “I was able to use the calendar so easily with the ladies I was sitting with. It gave me a lovely starting point for initiating some talk about Jesus and how much he loves them.”
‘Faith for Life: Biblical resources for people with dementia’ will be launched by HammondCare Media in association with Bible Society Australia at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney on March 20.