BY Ian Dunn | October 7 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print



SCO editor IAN DUNN explains why we are backing Alzheimer Scotland in their campaign to make Scotland better equipped to help those with dementia. Together, we can care for those carrying an often lonely burden

My grandmother was a remarkable woman. She was a doctor, when female doctors were rarer than hen’s teeth. She had eight children and was possessed of a resolute Catholic faith, a ranging intellect and a keen wit. She lived a long, happy and fulfilled life.

And at the end of it she had dementia. Thankfully, her children had many children of their own and so there were plenty of people able to spend time with her after the gas was left on one too many times for her to safely stay on her own anymore. As a relatively young man I remember walking up to her house in Cathcart to do my first such stint and feeling tremendously nervous that I would make some mistake that would somehow lead to disaster. And so for much of that first morning I fussed about her like a great pernickety hen, as she sailed on largely oblivious, and usually singing.

I found this off putting to begin with, not knowing then that this is incredibly common among people with dementia. Even as memories go, music remains, often to the last.

As I attempted to convince her to have some lunch, she burst into a throaty rendition of the Sound of Music classic Climb Every Mountain only to stop after the title line, look me dead in the eye, say ‘It’s a good policy,’ and laughed uproariously. I laughed too, and then it was easier.

That is a precious memory to me. When I think of my grandmother I often think of her in that moment. Wise, joyful, mischievous. I felt she had shown a side of herself to me I’d never seen before. Of course, her final years were hard, but I treasure that memory and those brief days we spent together.


As editor of the SCO, I wanted to run this campaign to make our churches friendlier to people with dementia because, as hard as it is, caring for someone with dementia is an act of love that can be astonishingly rewarding.

Alzheimer Scotland estimate that one in three people over the age of 65 will be affected by dementia. That’s not a problem. That is us. It is our lives and those of the people we love.

My grandmother had a huge family, who could help support her. Others aren’t so fortunate. But our parishes can be like a family. They can help share the load, and help people with dementia approach the end of their lives with joy and dignity.

And not just people with dementia, but those who care for them. It can be a lonely burden and they need support as well.

On this page you’ll find a list of simples tasks that can make any parish much friendlier to those with dementia, but we can do more.

Alzheimer Scotland will happily run workshops for any parish looking for some tips on how to help others.

We’ll send out a special SCO poster of those tips to hang on your parish wall. And we can do more. Special dementia choirs can be remarkably affective in slowing the progress of the diseases. We can hold special Masses. We can pray.

If you want to do something to help, or to just tell your story of how you’ve been affected by dementia, please get in touch with me at or by phoning 0141 241 6107.

This is the Year of Mercy. Pope Francis called on us to carry out works of mercy. In every parish in Scotland there is someone directly affected by dementia. We can help them. What are we waiting for?


PIC: The SCO team sign up to the Dementia Friendly campaign




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