Janet Jacob answering question at Eastbourne.
Janet Jacob answering question at Eastbourne.

The last thing I expected from a conference on the elderly and dementia was to come away rejoicing!’ said one friend to another as they drove away from one of our conferences recently.  (The friend knows us and wrote to tell us.)  I’m sure it’s because the Holy Spirit is in charge.   Before each conference we pray and hand everything over to Him, and in particular we ask that everyone will hear at least one thing that will have a positive impact on their lives.

When we talk about dementia, for example, we give examples of people who still worship and pray: not just mindless worship and prayer, but relevant in the moment; cogent and meaningful.  And looking at ‘developing usefulness in old age’ we look at how God designed old age on purpose, and how important older people are to His plan – and to His heart.  Like the 105 year old whose GP wrote to the magistrates asking them not to revoke her licence (that had been immaculate) after a little ‘prang’.  ‘After all,’ she told the reporter, ‘If I can’t drive who will take the old folks to church?’

‘Really encouraging – nothing was sugar coated and sometimes hard to hear,’ said a participant at our Eastbourne conference, ‘but important to know, and done with utmost respect.’

‘I’m a carer and a community psychiatric nurse,’ said another as he was leaving, ‘This was brilliant – gives me great information to use at home and at work.’

Last year Janet heard from a daughter who shared with her family what she’d learnt at one of our seminars five years earlier, and as a result, was able to keep Mum at home instead of choosing residential care.

Rosie telling how to create a dementia friendly church.
Rosie telling how to create a dementia friendly church.

We owe so much, too,  to the church leaders and organisers who host our conferences, and put so much work into making the days a success.   Thank you to Catriona, Pastor for older people, at St. John’s Church, Harborne, Birmingham, and to the amazing team there.  And to Hilary at Holy Trinity Church, Eastbourne.  A zillian thanks!

On the 16th Janet and I will be in Nottingham, training pastoral leaders on the ‘Brain Boosting’ programme for churches, and on the 21st I’ll be in Coventry, at Queens Road Baptist Church, with the Christian Helplines Association at their conference on ‘Supporting People Through Change and Loss.’  I’ll be speaking on ‘Supporting People through the Onset of Dementia’.  You can book on line at  www.christianhelp.ticketsource.co.uk.   Then look out for our conferences in June, in Sheffield and Soutbourne.  There’ll be information on our website, shortly.

Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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