Dementia-friendly ways to worship

Share this article:
Alex Treitler, organization director for spiritual care at AugustanaCare
Alex Treitler, organization director for spiritual care at AugustanaCare

After chaplain Alex Treitler began leading services for people with dementia, he quickly realized things weren't going well. He says those with dementia found it hard to engage with the “traditional Lutheran communion service model”— and so Treitler, the organization director for spiritual care at AugustanaCare, went to work.

Starting in 2012, he began leading innovative worship services at Emerald Crest, a Minneapolis-area AugustanaCare facility. 

These 15- to 30-minute services emphasize sensory stimulation. Rather than reading a Bible story, Treitler might act it out. He recently donned colorful scarves for the story of Joseph, his coat and his jealous brothers. His sermon engaged the residents; he says he asked if they ever fought with their siblings, and if they forgave each other.

Singing familiar hymns and reciting common prayers also is important. Many residents still can sing along or mouth the words, “even if their expressive ability is very compromised,” Treitler says. 

Residents are more alert and active during the services, which provide an opportunity for bonding with family members, according to cognitive clinical specialist Theresa Klein. She says one woman told her, “My mom and I can't really talk anymore, but we can share this experience.”

AugustanaCare is considering expanding the program, Klein says.



Share this article:
close

Next Article in News

More in News

Long-term care continues to lead in deal volume and value: PwC report

Long-term care continues to lead in deal volume ...

Long-term care bucked healthcare industry trends with strong merger and acquisition activity in the second quarter of 2014, according to newly released data from professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Empowering nurse practitioners could reduce hospitalizations from SNFs, study finds

Granting more authority to nurse practitioners is associated with reduced hospitalization of skilled nursing facility residents, according to recently published findings.

Pioneer ACO drops out of program, despite reductions in skilled nursing utilization

A California healthcare system has become the latest dropout from the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization program, despite reducing skilled nursing facility utilization and improving its readmission rates. Sharp HealthCare announced its decision in a quarterly financial statement released Tuesday.