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Abstract

Alzheimer ’s disease (AD) strips individuals of memories and abilities that have defined them as productive adults throughout their life. While the decline in memory is real and results in a ‘loss of self’ this does not equate to a ‘loss of soul.’ AD patients continue to have spiritual needs throughout their life as do the family, and/or caregivers. This article explores the spiritual needs and care of AD patients and families and the unique opportunity faith community nurses have to help the AD patient and their support system. The Reisberg Functional Assessment Staging System is used to explain the expected functional and cognitive decline and guide in specific nursing interventions at each stage of the disease. Music, prayer, singing, reading from the Bible, the Torah or other books significant to the individual are among the interventions introduced to help the individual continue to make the spiritual connection necessary for transition to end-of-life. Resources are suggested to increase caregiver resiliency throughout the illness and after the death of the family member.

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