Making Mother’s Day better for people living with dementia

Peter and Elsie

Author: Peter Crumpler

This Mother’s Day many tens of thousands of sons and daughters will be spending time with a mum who does not recognise them or remember who they are. I know from personal experience how distressing and sad that can be.

Around 900,000 people are currently living with dementia in the UK – with this figure projected to rise to nearly 1.6 million by 2040. The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that more than half of the UK population know someone who is living with the condition.

The symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, from mild to severe. Its development can be upsetting and emotionally painful – and will be deeply felt by many this Sunday.

Many Faith in Later Life church champions are helping to make their churches more friendly and welcoming for older people in a range of innovative ways.

In addition, Methodist Homes and Christians on Ageing have combined to produce advice on how to be more welcoming to people with dementia. Their guide, ‘Growing Dementia-Friendly Churches’ offers valuable advice to churches and individuals.

“It’s very easy,” they say, “for any church to assume that they would automatically be dementia-friendly. How could someone following Jesus think it acceptable to exclude anyone, particularly those who are so vulnerable in their midst? Yet so often people with dementia and their families do indeed become excluded and marginalised.”

A ‘dementia-friendly’ church would, they say, “look for strengths and abilities in people with dementia, then support and encourage the use of these gifts so that they too may participate in the community that is the body of Christ.”

The guide gives advice on making sure that the person with dementia, and their friends or family members, are both spiritually and pastorally supported and nurtured. This could include running a ‘memory club’ where those with dementia could enjoy a time of reminiscing, while their carers can separately share their experiences and challenges.

Simple services held midweek, or in local elderly people’s care homes, using familiar worship songs and readings can help provide spiritual support.

I lost my mother, Elsie, to Alzheimer’s – a form of dementia – in December 2021. She was 97 and had been living with the condition for several years before her death. I wrote this prayer in mum’s later years, as I visited her care home and sat with her. I offer it for all those whose mothers are hidden within the fog of dementia this Mother’s Day.


Dear mum,

You raised me, and now hardly know me.
You gave me birth, helped me to walk,
You helped me to flourish, to learn, to grow,
And you released me to live my life.
This Mother’s Day, may you – and all mothers – know God’s presence with you,
In the knowledge that God knows you in your innermost being,
knows you as uniquely created in God’s image.
May you be surrounded by God’s love,
As you are surrounded by mine.



Rev Peter Crumpler is a Church of England minister in St Albans, Herts.

Photo: Peter Crumpler, with his mother, Elsie.


For further helpful resources around the subject of dementia, please visit our Resource Hub.

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