On this episode of Advice From Your Advocates podcast, Bob speaks with Elisa Bosley, a licensed non-denominational Chaplin based in Colorado with decades of experience leading worship and bible studies. Elisa founded Spiritualeldercare.com and subsequently her YouTube Channel, when she noticed the lack of resources for those facing Dementia with regard to specialized offerings that they could participate in.
Elisa’s passion for the Dementia community came about when her father-in-law developed Alzheimer’s, and after he passed away, she began volunteering at a memory care residence near her home that offered a strong commitment to spiritual care for their seniors – which is unusual for many facilities. She goes on to explain that there are differences between religious care and spiritual care, and that there is a misconception between the two.
For instance, religious care is specific to a religion, whereas spiritual care revolves around the dignity and purpose of every human, regardless of their religious background and belief system. As a Chaplain, Elisa is non-denominational and therefore takes great pride in providing spiritual care to all seniors who wish to partake in her services. The impact of spiritual care revolves around the familiarity and repetition of practice that elders with Dementia can lean into their long-term memory for. Items like songs, scripture, and poems offer the opportunities for these individuals to participate in something that they know and provide a sense of community and familiarity.
Elisa shares how she interacts with seniors both through her online offerings, which are all free of charge, and with her in person volunteerism. She stressed the importance of rituals like music and staying in chronological order of the program book are crucial to the senior’s connectivity with the engagement. Hosting these services in senior care facilities or small groups allows for those with Dementia to not be overstimulated and comfortable within a setting they know. This also allows for those who are unable to get to a place of worship to participate without any worries about factors that may prevent this otherwise.
Through Elisa’s guided services, she has implemented a few things that make it unique for those with Dementia. These things are slower paced service so that the senior can process what’s being said, pausing between readings so that interaction truly takes place, and familiar repetition and continuity throughout each service – meaning each week the songs are in the same order, and the same songs are performed. This allows all participants to truly take in what’s happening, interact with her and each other, and feel valuable to what’s happening around them.
Both Bob and Elisa encouraged our audience to try to remember what we can learn from these patients, residents, clients, and family members on the Dementia journey by taking a minute to just slow down, and take all things going on around you in, instead of just moving through them. The Dementia journey is complex, but there can be beauty in it too if you’re willing to try to find it.
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