Edward De Quay, Development Worker for Caritas Westminster
As a society, it is important that we are confident to respond to the needs of those with dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, “how others respond to the person, and how supportive or enabling the persons surroundings greatly affects how well someone can live with dementia.”
Dementia commonly affects people over the age of 65. Pope Francis has been uncompromising about the need to cherish the elderly in our society. He has stressed the need to care for and respect older people, saying that a society without this commitment has no future. In 2012, Pope Benedict stated that “the quality of a society, of a civilisation, may also be judged by how it treats its elderly and by the place reserved for them in communal life. To give space to the elderly is to give space to life!”
Dementia can also affect younger people, with over 40,000 in the UK under 65 affected. Regardless of age, Catholic Social Teaching clearly states that we have a duty of care. “Every human person – no matter how vulnerable or helpless, no matter how young or how old, no matter how healthy, handicapped or sick, no matter how useful or productive for society – is a being of inestimable worth created in the image and likeness of God (Pope John Paul II).”
Building awareness and understanding are the first steps to an effective response. We would like to encourage you to engage in this Dementia Awareness Week, and to reflect on how your parish community can reach out to families and individuals facing the challenges of living with dementia. In your family and beyond, for those with dementia and for those who are engaged in their care, your support is precious.
The views expressed in this blog are not CSAN policy.