Spirituality and Aging Webinar

May 28, 2020

Spiritual Resiliency, Dementia and Caregiving during Uncertain Days: Staying grounded through hopeful stories and faithful practices.

Accompanying a person with dementia has never been easy, but perhaps at no time in history has it been more challenging than today. The media is filled with inspiring images of professional caregivers who demonstrate amazing courage and endurance, day after day, but less attention is paid to those quietly giving care at home.  These “invisible” helpers are angels as well—and they are tired, isolated, at physical risk and worried about the future. The daily routines of their lives may continue, but they are typically more isolated and anxious than ever before. How can those of us who give care at home, along with our care partners experiencing dementia, maintain our spiritual and emotional grounding when everything around us is shifting? In other words, how can we be spiritually resilient during a world-changing pandemic?

The presenters of this webinar will raise questions about the intersection of faith and caregiver health – emotional, social and spiritual. Namely, are there healthy and healing ways to narrate our own lives, as caregivers, that are more strengthening than others? Are there images and stories (including those we tell ourselves!) describing community, maturity, and interpersonal relationships that help us avoid getting stuck in despair and hopelessness? What specific spiritual practices facilitate and increase resiliency, and what impediments does this pandemic pose to our spiritual lives? What does it mean to be a supportive spiritual community when we are physically separated from one another and need one another more than ever, at times of serious illness and death?

This is a webinar about strengths, but our focus is also on telling the truth. Only through accepting reality and grieving human losses can we move into a mature resiliency.  For persons of faith that means we can cling to a “tough hope” that goes beyond what we see in our current situation. Through hopeful spiritual resiliency, we not only endure a crisis, we grow and mature. We believe that this is possible precisely because we are not alone in our struggle. Our resiliency is not merely personal but also spiritual—that is, grounded in the trustworthiness of divine love.

Presenters:

Janet L Ramsey, Ph.D., M.Div.

Janet Ramsey is Professor Emeritus of Congregational Care Leadership at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN.  Now partially retired, Dr. Ramsey spends her time writing, caring for her nine grandchildren and her beloved Sheltie, and traveling with her husband, Joe.  Before becoming an academic, she was a marriage and family counselor, a parish pastor, and a nursing home chaplain/administrator. She has written and spoken widely on spiritual resiliency, forgiveness and healthy aging. Her most recent book (Fortress Press, 2018) is “Dignity and Grace: Wisdom for Caregivers and Those Living With Dementia”.

Jane Kuepfer, RP, PhD, MDiv

Schlegel Specialist in Spirituality & Aging with the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging, Waterloo, Ontario.

Additional reading: Janet Ramsey – Further Readings on Dementia Caregiving and Spiritual Resiliency