CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — A Presbyterian church in southeast Missouri is reaching out to those affected by Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia with a service that caters to them.
The Southeast Missourian reports 30-40 people typically attend the service on Sundays at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Cape Girardeau.
"We're a very small congregation," pastor Karen Dumey said. "But we still want to serve the community in some way."
Dumey said an elder at the church came up with the idea after working with residents at the Missouri Veterans Home in Cape Girardeau.
The service begins with 30 minutes of traditional hymns. Dumey says the old songs "nourish" people even if other memories are gone.
"It's amazing how our brains remember," Dumey said. "Music speaks deeply to them."
The remainder of the service includes readings from the Bible, a sermon, and an "exchange of peace" in which people can mingle and greet each other.
The Alzheimer's Association says more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's or another form of dementia.
Dumey said the service, which began in August, offers faith support for those with dementia and their caregivers. She said anyone is welcome to attend.
Dumey said they recognize that dementia can affect people differently, depending on the disease has progressed. Some are restless and need to get up and wander during the service. Others might talk through it. It's all OK.
"Our congregation is very warm and caring," Dumey said.