Dementia is a very trying condition, especially for those caring for a family member suffering from the disease. In this article, we look at what dementia is, how it impacts the sufferer and the family caring for their loved one, and we offer practical suggestions and prayer pointers to help families caring for a family member with dementia.
What is dementia?
- Dementia is a group of conditions that impacts memory, thinking and social skills. Early diagnosis may help slow progression of the disease, but there is no cure for dementia.
- People with dementia tend to have problems with short-term memory and their ability to communicate may deteriorate.
- Dementia tends to change an individual’s mood. This unpredictability of mood is usually accompanied by a change in general character and personality. This happens because the individual is losing neurons in certain parts of the brain.
- When dementia advances, the sufferer may say and do things that seem irrational. They may hide things away or give odd reasons for their behaviour when questioned.
- Dementia causes disorientation of time, place and occurrence in most patients. This characteristic of dementia worsens over time.
- People with dementia lose the ability to comprehend. They do not understand what is happening and ask the same questions repeatedly.
- Dementia also affects the physical movement of sufferers, and as motor control gradually decreases, they may begin to walk with a stoop or lean to one side. This posture may lead to stumbling and falling due to a lack of balance and disorientation.
- People with dementia often stop practising self-care and hygiene as the disease progresses.
- Over time, people with dementia can lose interest in eating. Family members or carers must ensure that sufferers continue to eat properly to avoid malnutrition.
- Weakened judgment causes a loss of social skills in those suffering with dementia. They may speak or behave inappropriately at times.
Pray for people suffering from dementia
Father, we pray for all those struggling today with dementia in its many forms: Mood changes, memory lapses, confusion, helplessness, etc. May they know in their hearts Your comforting embrace amid their daily frustration, and continue to realise that they are still loved by family and friends, and especially by You. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3). Thank You for being their everlasting peace. We pray that You will always be at the centre of their minds because when they have You, they have everything. May Your Divine peace surpass all their understanding. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10). Father, dementia does not take away their identity in You, for You are the Good Shepherd, and they are Your sheep and Your children. Lord, grant understanding to those who care for people with dementia.
Pray for family members
…in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Father, we pray for families caring for a dementia sufferer to find their strength in Jesus. May they reflect on who Jesus is and His character. Instead of feeling disheartened, may they change their mood to one of thankfulness at still being able to speak to their family member who is suffering with dementia and pray for them.
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:9). Father, we pray for family members to praise You, despite how broken-hearted they may feel, and for them not to become weary of doing so. In due season, they will reap if they do not faint or grow weary. We pray for these families to choose to cling to You, because You are the solid rock on which they can stand through all of life’s uncertainties.
A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones. (Proverbs 17:22). Father, we give You thanks because You are good, and Your mercies endure forever. You are Light in the darkness for these families. Everything good comes from You above! The joy You have given them is medicine to their hearts. We pray for families who care for their loved ones suffering from dementia, we pray against a broken spirit in this difficult time because it is like ‘dry bones’. Lord, have Your way in their hearts.
From the end of the earth I cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2). Father, we pray for these families whose hearts are overwhelmed, lead them to the Rock that is higher than they are. We ask that they would cast all their fears onto You. We ask that they will cast all their anxieties onto You and receive Your Spirit within them. Hear their cries Lord, for You are their Rock. “…hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.“ (Romans 5:5).
…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7). Father, You care for these families, and we pray that they will cast all their cares upon You because You care for them. Father, You will not let them face dementia alone, because You are always with them. We pray that they will remember in this journey that You understand, You see their suffering, You are their Father, and You love them. May the God of hope fill them with all joy and peace, as they trust in Him. May they overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit, we ask You to help families to remember that they are serving Jesus as they care for their family member suffering from dementia. Father, we pray for these families to have regular time in Your Word, in prayer and in private worship. We pray for them to enrol in small groups that can pray regularly for them and their family member. We pray for them to let people get close to them to know them well enough to know when they are struggling.
Father, we pray for these families to find godly friends who will encourage them. We ask for them to come before Your throne of grace boldly, to trust and honour You who will empower them to serve You and others.
Father, we pray for each family member to use whatever gift they have received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone of them speaks, they should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone of them serves, they should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things, God may be praised through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:10-11).