Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s

Special Service Offered For Churchgoers Affected By Alzheimer’s

Every institution in town has members affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia.

At Saugatuck Congregational Church, folks noticed that long-time worshipers were not attending as often as they used to.

Church officials wondered why. They learned that withdrawing is very common in families with dementia. They learned too that very few faith communities are “dementia-friendly.”

To combat that withdrawal — and the accompanying feeling of abandonment — Saugatuck Church has created a special service.

“God in the Now: Community Worship to Support Individuals and Families Affected by Memory Loss” is set for Sunday, March 13 (3 p.m.). Non-church members are warmly invited to attend.

By focusing on familiar hymns and prayers deeply ingrained in churchgoers’ memories, the service will encourage maximum participation from all. More and shorter elements in the service will facilitate as much focus as possible. Of course, the sanctuary is wheelchair accessible.

Saugatuck Congregational Church will open its doors to all who suffer from Alzheimer's and dementia, and their families and friends.

Saugatuck Congregational Church will open its doors to all who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia, and their families and friends.

The service is organized with the help of church members who have experienced these issues in their own families. The Alzheimer’s Association, Senior Center and others with experience in care-giving are also involved.

After the worship, a reception in Hoskins Hall will include information and resources, provided by the Alzheimer’s Association.

This type of service is quite rare in the US. Church officials believe this is the first time such an event is offered in Westport.

In conjunction with the service, the Westport Senior Center will screen the film “Still Alice” this Thursday (March 10, 4:30 p.m.). The movie is about a linguistics professor and her family, as they cope with her early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Code Red

Westporters had a variety of reactions to today’s noontime “CodeRED Reverse 911” phone calls from the Police Department, asking for help locating an 82-year-old Alzheimer’s patient.

Some people were worried, or curious.  Others were annoyed at the intrusion.

Linda Gramatky Smith was alert.  And then she was satisfied.

Here’s the longtime resident’s story:

I love the new emergency alert system that Westport started in the last six months, and today I got personally involved.  I’m helping plan our Staples 50th reunion for September, and the brother of a deceased classmate called unexpectedly from San Francisco.  We spoke for a long time, and I stood in the kitchen making my lunch.

As we talked about our neighborhood, I gazed outside.  Absentmindedly I watched an elderly gentleman trudge by on Roseville, going south towards the Post Road.  I think I noticed him because cars speed by on Roseville, and only the heartiest joggers brave the traffic.  This man wasn’t fragile, but he wasn’t jogging.

Soon after I hung up, the phone rang again.  It was a Code Red alert.  A man with Alzheimer’s, the police recording said, had been downtown, around Town Hall, and disappeared.

As I heard the description — 80s, salt and pepper hair, brown pants and jacket — I immediately thought of the man I’d seen walking by.  I picked up the phone to call the police.

I told the woman who answered that I was afraid the man might have walked too far away, but she said a cruiser would be sent immediately. Imagine my delight when another call came in 15 minutes later, telling town residents that the gentleman had been found!  He had walked on back roads from downtown — a long distance.

I’m not sure if I was the one who gave the info that the police needed to find this man, but it brought back memories of when my mom lived with us.  She had dementia for the last couple of years.  I feel so happy that our town has this wonderful system in place — and that today instead of having my eyes fixed on the computer screen upstairs, I was fortunate enough to look out as a man walked by our house.