Alzheimer's Disease and Spiritual Needs

As people grow old, they may become forgetful and confused, frail and frightened. Just when they most need spiritual comfort, they are often isolated from the support of organized religion. This is especially true when Alzheimer’s Disease is a factor.

Marion Roach Smith is trying to change that. She will speak on “The Right to Worship: Spirituality and Religious Faith in the Life and Care of those with Alzheimer’s Disease,” Monday, April 7, at 12:30 p.m. in the Common Room of Yale Divinity School, 409 Prospect St. Following her talk, she will lead a panel discussion. This event is free and open to the public.

Ms. Smith is author of “Another Name for Madness”, Houghton Mifflin 1985, a book about Alzheimer’s Disease, and contributed to two others: “Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease” and “Confronting Alzheimer’s Disease.” She has written for The New York Times Magazine, Newsday, American Health, and Prevention. She served as advisor to Mayor Edward Koch, assisting in the establishment of New York City’s Alzheimer’s Disease Information and Referral Office.

“My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1977, and since then I’ve been an advocate, trying to educate people about the disease and trying to address legal issues, social issues and the practical needs of patients and caregivers. Now I think it’s time to do something spiritual,” Ms. Smith said when she initiated her first interfaith service for those with Alzheimer’s and their families, back in 1992.

Panelists include Martha O. Adams, author of “Alzheimer’s Disease: A Call to Courage for Caregivers,” and a lay member of the United Church of Christ; and Ray Cooley, chaplain at the Masonic Geriatric Healthcare Center in Wallingford, CT, the largest private geriatric facility in the state. The Rev. Cooley is an ordained minister in the Southern Baptist Church.

Parking is available at the Divinity School. For further information, call Sam Dexter at 203/787-5022.

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