When mental faculties start to decline, both the individual and their families can be deeply affected. Memory loss, impaired judgment, and behavior changes can shatter any peaceful existence.
Recognizing that many parishioners had family members with some form of dementia, Senior Pastor Frederick Price, Jr., of Crenshaw Christian Center (CCC) formed an Alzheimer’s Board in 2013.
“CCC’s Alzheimer’s Board, under the direction and leadership of Elder Robert Bolden, was established in response to a growing need for information about this cognitive impairment,” said Deirdre Thompson, who joined CCC in 1988 and serves on the Alzheimer’s Board.
“All of the board members have loved ones with dementia and have observed up close the debilitating effects that it can have on the family. A survey of congregants showed an overwhelming response for people wanting more information about dementia and how to maintain good brain health,” she explained.
Dementia incorporates a variety of symptoms including memory decline, inability to focus, disorientation and difficulty in communicating. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, can reduce the ability to perform everyday tasks as well.
Thompson was among those wanting to learn more since she and her husband, Desmond, are caregivers for her mother-in-law who has vascular dementia. According to alz.org, vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, however, Thompson shared that there are ways to reduce the potential of its occurrence and medications to ease the impact of symptoms in existing patients.
“In February 2014, Dr. Keith Black, the world- renown neurosurgeon, gave a powerful and informative presentation to the church on Alzheimer’s and its future impact on the health care system,” said Thompson.
“He described dementia as the coming tsunami in health care because of the health care system’s inability to adequately address the growing incidence and prevalence of dementia, along with its great cost, due to the aging of the population.
“He further noted that prevention, through a lifestyle of regular fitness and good eating habits, is the best way to address this condition.”
In addition to sponsoring workshops on the disease, the CCC Alzheimer’s Board also plans several free sessions to assist caregivers.
“Caregivers of those with dementia are a unique group requiring a special skill set to compassionately and effectively provide care. Upcoming education and outreach will address the needs of this group, among other pertinent topics,” noted Thompson, who added that she has personally benefited from being active with the CCC Alzheimer’s Board.
“Although I have a Master’s degree in Public Health from UCLA, nothing could have prepared me to be a caregiver for a loved one with the complexities of dementia,” she said.
“The scripture that drives my philosophy about my role as a caregiver and the work of the CCC Alzheimer’s Board is Hosea 4:6, ‘My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.’”
To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Board, call Crenshaw Christian Center at (323) 758-3777. Visit alz.org for information about dementia.