In its efforts to continue educating the community about dementia and Alzheimer’s, the Jet Setters of Berea church in Boston, Massachusetts, in collaboration with several other organizations, held its second annual Memory Sunday program.
The keynote speaker was Michael Kincade of Boston’s Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital. Other participants were Emily Shea, Age Strong commissioner of the City of Boston; Cary Goodman of Balm of Gilead, Inc., in Virginia; and Nancy Coppelman of Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.
Commissioner Shea outlined Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s initiatives to combat the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s in the City of Boston, such as holding regular Memory Cafés, training volunteers who sit with patients, sensitivity training for all workers at Boston City Hall, and the formation of business partnerships with the city.
Goodman addressed the issue of the effects of dementia in communities of color and the likelihood of increased diagnoses in later years due to a lack of medical care. He shared the rationale for educating faith-based organizations in communities of color about dementia and Alzheimer’s. Historically, churches were the major disseminators of information and leaders of change in these communities.
Coppelman affirmed that participants of the Hope Studies were recruited on a voluntary basis, and that there was no telemarketing associated with recruiting them. The need for volunteers is crucial in studying the causes and effects of dementia.
Kincade emphasized the importance of making memories with loved ones, finding out about important events in their earlier lives, and journaling. The illness may take away current moments, but not the love shared and the heartfelt joy that lives within the patient.
Present moments may get lost, but love remembers, according to Kincade. They may not remember names, but the love remains. He also reminded the audience that families are usually the last to notice signs of dementia, because they make excuses for symptoms that are displayed in plain sight.
When journaling, it is helpful to write down everything, so that when visiting medical professionals, it becomes easier to answer questions that may come up.
He gave several scenarios about dealing with the incidence of dementia. One scenario demonstrated how the memory of a pleasant experience in life can be triggered by an aroma, song, or voice, causing the patient to respond positively without knowing why.
His topic, “Love Remembers,” was instructive for all to show love and respect to their loved ones and include those suffering from this disease in their regular lives as far as possible.
The session ended with questions from the audience. The Jet Setters of Berea are committed to educating the community about preventing, diagnosing, and supporting all who are dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s, not just on Memory Sunday, but throughout the year.
Barbara J. Defoe, member and Jet Setters leader, Berea church