Stories, Strategies, and Spiritual Practices for Caregivers of People with Dementia

Universal Spirit

THESE ARE THE FACTS: There are over 100 types of dementia affecting over 50 million people around the world. Unfortunately, knowing the hard numbers doesn’t make caregiving less demanding, challenging, exhausting, and, yes, many times and in many ways, potentially uplifting. Caregiving is typically understood as an activity, as something we do – likely because caregivers do a lot. But caregiving is deeper than what we do. It is more than a series of tasks. It is, first and foremost, a call to love.

In How the Light Shines each chapter engages an issue raised by caregivers themselves and is filled with real-life stories that convey the realities of caregiving, as well as tips and advice, and spiritual insight and guidance. It is written with both individuals and groups in mind. Each chapter includes questions and, for personal or group reflection, a spiritual practice and a prayer grounded in the pain and possibilities of it all.

In How the Light Shines, Trisha Elliott invites caregivers, of which she is one, to dive deep, to confront the challenges – physical, emotional, and spiritual – that are part and parcel of caring for someone with dementia, and also to explore the possibility that caregiving is a holy calling, that it is not just about learning a set of skills, but can be a path to a deeper relationship with God and with the divine spirit in all of us, including those with dementia.


5 Spiritual Practices for Aging Well

Buddhism offers 3 practices that increase our happiness as we grow older, and the author offers 2 more, supported by psychological research.


Meeting Dementia Patients’ Spiritual Needs

To connect to the Washington Post article, “Congregations attempt to meet the religious needs of people with dementia,”  click on the following link:

The article describes Spirit Alive, a weekly multisensory worship service for people with mid- to late-stage dementia and several other worship services that serve this population.  The article notes that research has found that sustaining a connection with worship and congregational life is a key contributor to quality of life for people with dementia.  It mentions the group Faith United Against Alzheimer’s, which offers resources for hosting monthly Memory Cafes for people with Alzheimer’s.  For more information on these resources, click on the following link: