Support Adults with Dementia and Their Caregivers This Easter

by Marilyn Gore

Amazing Place is a Houston area non-profit organization that strives to end the stigma of dementia by supporting people with this diagnosis along with their families and their caregivers. It is supported by numerous Houston churches, including St. John the Divine, both financially and through representation on their Council of Congregations and Board of Directors.

Amazing Place’s programs include a Day Program for persons with mild to moderate dementia; family caregiver support through educational programs, one-on-one consultations, and support groups; and brain health education, including educational presentations, memory enhancement training, and programs for older adults looking to remain independent as they age.

St. John the Divine has an especially close relationship with Amazing Place. We have hosted numerous educational programs for caregivers, memory enhancement classes, and a class for navigating your own aging journey. Marilyn Patterson, a parishioner and Chief Financial Officer of St. John the Divine, found Amazing Place when her mother received a diagnosis of dementia and she found herself in a caregiving role for which she felt unprepared. Marilyn has graciously shared her story.

A couple of years ago my mother was going through a difficult time where she was having a bit of dementia and quite a bit of macular degeneration. I needed to relocate my mother to Houston from San Angelo, and I needed to understand how to work with her and deal with all the issues she had with her dementia and just day-to-day things. I found Amazing Place because (SJD Director of Seniors Ministry) Susan Davis told me about it. I had kind of been following them and seeing what they had available for help, so one of the things I did right away was reach out to them.

They had a Savvy Caregivers class, but they had an express class that you could take in half the time, which I took because I suddenly needed some help. I took this class by Zoom in three installments, and I talked with the director and other people that were in the same situation. I learned a lot about dealing with adults with dementia and the tools and tricks you need to be able to accommodate them and to make both your life and their life better.

The class helped me be a little more caring and more patient with her, understanding that who I was talking to was not my old mom. It was the new one that now has dementia, and I couldn't rationalize with her, and that was okay. But I could be a good listener and validate her feelings and make her quality of life better and hopefully keep my time caring for her a bit easier than I initially thought it would be.

I have done support group meetings. I have gone to a few in person and done a few by Zoom. It's always very heartwarming when you realize there are so many other people in the same situation that you are that they love their family member or their spouse or whoever it is that has dementia or is failing physically — that they love them and want to care for them in the best way possible.

It's just such a big relief to know that this is just a stage of life for all of us. At some point, we're going to end up caring for somebody, whether it be a spouse that has dementia or physical ailments or if it's a parent. This is just another chapter of life. And I want to make my mother's life as wonderful as I can, for all the good things she did for me over the years. I want her to be happy, and I want her to leave this world with a smile on her face.

And I want it to be okay for me as well because this whole process can really drain a person. Caring for someone with dementia can exhaust a person if they don't realize that they need to take time for themselves. They need to set boundaries. They need to be able to handle things appropriately and care for themselves.

All my mother's doctors have her medical care under control, and they are taking excellent care of her. Amazing Place is taking care of me, showing me how to be a better caregiver and how to stay sane through the whole process. They’ve been absolutely wonderful, and I couldn’t have come this far without them. They have literally saved me. I have referred a few friends to them, including some that are out of state that would like to be able to go to their website and read information and maybe join a Zoom class or a Zoom group."

To support the work of Amazing Place this Easter, please make your offering online or during one of our Easter services.

SJD Campus

2450 River Oaks Boulevard, Houston, TX 77019 Map

(713) 622-3600 | infosjdorg