Alzheimer’s Awareness Month Begins
By Margarita Mendoza, Editor El Observador
November 4, 2021
With more than 6 million cases of Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S., chances are that you or someone that you know may have it or will develop the disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is “the most common form of dementia” according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and “the most common type of dementia among western countries, corresponding to about 60 percent of cases,” said a report from the U.S. National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health (NLM/NIH).
Care for your loved ones
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America began offering free virtual memory screenings so that people could receive screening from the safety of their homes. 
Receive a free one-on-one, confidential memory screening from a qualified professional using your computer or smart phone at
November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, since former president Ronald Regan issued a Proclamation declaring it as such in 1985. Not only is it a perfect time to have a memory screening, it is also a good occasion to offer spiritual support or encouragement to caregivers who are usually relatives or friends. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control, “more than 11 million Americans provided an estimated 15.3 billion hours of unpaid care, a contribution to the nation valued at $257 billion.” So it is clear that
 Alzheimer’s has great impact on more than the patient. 
Alzheimer’s and Faith 
The NLM/NIH published a study about the relationship between religion and Alzheimer’s, showing that, “personal faith, prayer, connection to church, as well as family support are found to enhance the ability of people with early-stage AD to keep a positive attitude as they face every day augmenting living problems.” 
The disease causes confusion and progressive memory loss and may harm the affected person’s ability to communicate and respond to their environment. Still, it seems that two elements — music and faith — can bring them comfort. 
Enrique Mendoza, a parishioner in St. Mary Parish in Elgin, recalls how music and faith have helped his mother-in-law.
“My 89-year-old mother-in-law sometimes doesn’t recognize by name her own family.  She doesn’t know how old she (is), and she has forgotten many aspects of her life. Recently she had COVID.
“Amusingly, during her worst night being sick with the virus, she grabbed a paper very tight in her hand. She didn’t let anyone remove it and kept holding it tight during the whole night. Next day, we realized that she was hiding in her fist an image of the Infant Jesus of Prague. 
“She has always had a huge devotion for Him, and she showed that she continues having a strong faith in Him regardless of her advanced stage of Alzheimer’s. Eventually, she recovered from COVID,” Mendoza said.  
What To Do in Church
Going to Mass could be a challenge for people with the illness, the caregivers and for churchgoers. 
For instance, a person in the early to medium stage of Alzheimer’s may not follow the steps of the rituals at Mass or may stand when they should be seated or kneeling.  The person may speak inappropriately during the Mass or have difficulty connecting with the celebration. 
In these situations, parishioners are called to exercise their Catholic values with kindness and compassion. Offering to assist the family with caregiving, shopping or prayer visits can be a wonderful act of charity. Sharing your family story with fellow parishioners and your pastor can also help.
“Sometimes elderly people come to me asking for a blessing, then turn around and minutes later come back asking again for a blessing, like they haven’t received yet. I understand them and give them the blessing again,” said Father Juan Arciniegas of Sacred Heart Parish in Aurora.
When it is time to receive holy Communion, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recommends that for those “baptized Catholics who have been regular communicants” and are affected by Alzheimer’s, “Holy Communion should continue to be offered as long as possible, and ministers are called to carry out their ministry with a special patience.” 
“And for those who are confined or have difficulty swallowing, “decisions… (are) to be made on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with the individual, those closest to him or her, physicians, and the pastor.” 
It is important to realize that Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. The number of people in the U.S. affected by the disease is projected to be close to 14 million by 2060. While there is no cure for the disease, there are treatments to delay the progression of the disease and greatly improve a person’s quality of life.
Early diagnosis, awareness and education on Alzheimer’s disease can help the patient, their families and their caregivers make better plans for disease management.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America encourages people to use social media to spread the word by sharing facts, found at Other activities are available at


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