Religious orders launch initiative to care for nuns with dementia
ROME (CNS) — Having a member over the age of 100 is not unusual for Catholic religious orders today, but many orders lack the specialized knowledge or resources to ensure accurate diagnosis and treatment. best possible plan of care for sisters who experience dementia or other forms of cognitive impairment, several sisters said.
Sister Jane Wakahiu, a member of the Little Sisters of St. Francis and head of the Catholic Sisters Initiative at the Hilton Foundation, announced May 9 that the foundation is providing $5 million to help launch the Global Catholic Sisters Initiative. on Alzheimer’s Cognitive Disorders, a project of the International Union of Superiors General and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States.
“Our elderly and infirm sisters are a source of inspiration and wisdom to fully live fidelity to religious life. We stand on their shoulders,” Sister Wakahiu said.
“Our elderly and infirm sisters are a source of inspiration and wisdom to fully live fidelity to religious life. We stand on their shoulders,” Sister Wakahiu said during an afternoon conference at UISG headquarters and online.
Having aging sisters in the community is a blessing, not a problem, she said, so the sisters want to do all they can to ensure their older members have a healthy physical, spiritual and mental old age. . One of the biggest challenges, Sister Wakahiu said, is caring for sisters with Alzheimer’s disease and “its progressive flight of consciousness and ability from our sisters.” As each patient is unique in their diagnosis, medication and therapy, we must be mindful. This initiative will provide resources to congregations and conferences (of religious) for education, training, evaluation and direct service.
Sister Peter Lillian Di Maria, a member of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm and Director of the Avila Institute of Gerontology in Germantown, New York, gave conference attendees an introduction to caring for people with disorders. cognitive.
Having aging sisters in the community is a blessing, not a problem.
The most important thing is “to educate us about cognitive impairment, dementia and especially Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common cause of dementia,” she said. But it’s also essential to remember that dementia is different from “age-related memory loss” and a slowing of problem-solving or other mental processes, which do not interfere with the ability of a person to function.
Care should include “ongoing assessment of the person for what they can continue to do and what modifications we could make to help them stay independent or as independent as possible,” she said. In addition, the congregations must train those who care for the person and live with him.
As the sisters develop the program, they will work with the Washington-based Center for Applied Apostolate Research to survey women’s religious congregations about their experience and needs in caring for sisters with dementia. .