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Christian Perspective in Dementia Caregiving: Unique Struggles & Practical Advice

Have you ever wondered how your faith influences your caregiving journey for a loved one with dementia?

Caring for a loved one with dementia is challenging. When you add differing beliefs, it becomes even more complex. This episode sheds light on these unique struggles and offers hope and practical advice for caregivers.

The Intersection of Faith and Caregiving

As a Christian caregiver, your faith shapes your approach to caregiving. It influences your decisions, interactions, and reactions. This episode emphasizes how a Christian perspective can transform your caregiving experience, even when the person you're caring for doesn't share your faith.

Navigating Family Dynamics

One of the most challenging aspects discussed is caring for a non-believing family member. This personal journey highlights the difficulties of balancing care for a loved one who is an atheist. The emotional and spiritual conflicts can be intense, but there are ways to navigate these waters.

Addressing Behavioral Challenges

We often talk about dementia behaviors. But this episode brings a fresh perspective: the spiritual aspect. Some behaviors might be amplified by spiritual conflicts.

Recognizing this can help you approach caregiving with more understanding and patience.

Prioritizing Relationships

Another key point is the importance of maintaining your primary relationships. For married caregivers, the bond with your spouse takes precedence.

This can mean making tough decisions about the level of care you provide personally. It's essential to balance your role as a caregiver with your role as a spouse to ensure both relationships remain healthy.

Finding Peace and Strength

The episode also touches on the peace that comes from relying on God. Knowing that it's not solely your responsibility to change your loved one can be liberating. This trust in God's plan helps maintain a positive and hopeful outlook.

Practical Tips for Caregivers

Join Support Groups: Connect with others who share your faith and caregiving journey. The Christian Dementia Caregiving Facebook group is a great place to start.

Join our Facebook Group at:

Attend Workshops: Learning new strategies can ease the caregiving process. Workshops on managing challenging behaviors can be particularly helpful.

3 Tips How to Avoid Challenging Dementia Behaviors For Christians

Pray: Never underestimate the power of prayer. Pray for your loved one, yourself, and your family. It provides strength and comfort.

Final Thoughts

Caregiving for a loved one with dementia is never easy. When your faith and their beliefs differ, it adds another layer of complexity.

But by staying true to your faith, seeking support, and prioritizing your relationships, you can navigate this journey with grace and resilience.

Join the Conversation

What are your biggest challenges as a caregiver with differing beliefs from your loved one? Share your experiences and find support in our community. Together, we can provide care that honors our faith and our loved ones.

Your journey matters, and you're not alone. Let's continue to support each other in faith and caregiving.

Listen to the Podcast

Listen to the episode on the player above, click here to download the episode and take it with you or listen anywhere you normally listen to podcasts.

a person holding a hand One Woman's Christian Perspective

[0:00] Have you ever wondered if there are differences in being a caregiver from a Christian perspective or worldview? And then have you even wondered how that impacts your journey as a caregiver if you are the caregiver to an atheist? So today's episode, you will hear me pour out my heart related to being a family caregiver of a father, an earthly father, who is a militant atheist. So I invite you to listen to this short episode, and I would love for you to give me feedback on which types of episodes you really enjoy the most.

[0:50] Well, welcome back, Christian caregiver. Welcome to Christian Dementia Caregiving. This is the podcast where I teach Bible-believing Christians where you can find actual help as well as hope for your caregiving journey. So you can continue to make good memories and still glorify God despite your dementia caregiving journey. Today's episode is going to be very different than all of the other episodes that I think I've ever done. I wanted to talk about myself a little bit. I wanted to give you a little bit of a backstory and a way to actually get to know me and where I'm coming from because every person's journey is different but the same and we don't all have the same challenges and we don't have all we don't all have the same opportunities and I have a very unique story and.

Impact of Christian Worldview on Caregiving

[2:08] It is 100% related to how my Christian perspective and my Christian worldview has radically changed, my caregiving journey and my decision-making in my caregiving journey. So today's episode is going to be a little bit different because I really want to unpack hack for you today. How much, and we know this as Christians, as believers, we know that our Christian worldview, our Christian perspective, our Christian way of looking at things does radically change how we act, interact, or react, or should act, interact, or react in situations.

[3:06] But what I don't think we often think about is how being a Christian changes your caregiving journey. I think we know this. It changes how we parent. It changes how we are an employee. It changes how we're supposed to drive in traffic. It is supposed to infiltrate and be a part of our entire lives and how we do everything.

[3:39] And when we are a true Bible-believing Christian, sometimes because we live in our own skin and because we've perhaps been Christians for decades or your whole entire life that you cannot remember not ever being a Christian. Sometimes it's hard to actually recognize how different we are truly from the world. Did you know that caring for a person with dementia doesn't have to be this hard? If you are struggling and you would like to join our next free workshop, the topic of the workshop is three tips how to avoid challenging dementia behaviors. Without stress, anxiety, or burnout. I invite you to walk away with science-backed dementia caregiving skills that many professionals don't even know after attending this free workshop on Saturday. If you'd like to register, message me the word workshop on Instagram or check out the link in the show notes below.

Transition to Christian Dementia Caregiving Focus

[5:04] Which is why I actually ended up changing the name of the podcast from Dementia Caregiving for Families to Christian Dementia Caregiving. Because as I started down this journey, I really recognize now how vastly different my view, my framework, my way of answering questions related to dementia is to anybody out there in the healthcare and or the dementia caregiving economy. But I just wanted to talk to you a little bit about some of the challenges that we have as a Christian navigating dementia when the person that we are taking care of is a non-believer. And that is my specific situation. I am the primary caregiver to both my parents. My mom, I believe, is a smoldering wick. I will never know until the other side of glory what it is that my mom truly believes because my mom has been living with an atheist for 55 years and not only an atheist but a militant atheist. My husband and I were actually having a conversation yesterday related to caregiving for my dad, helping my parents, specifically my father.

[6:26] And how difficult it is for me because in essence, we have a very limited and limiting relationship, nor can we really truly have a relationship because of his worldview, his his atheism. And so this is a very difficult topic for a lot of people to think about. But there are many, many people who are family caregivers, who are helping a person who either isn't a believer, never was a believer, or was a believer that, name only and maybe walked away from the faith. You know, there are lots of parables in the Bible talking about fruitful ground versus unfruitful ground and that when trials come, some people walk away, right? I'm not talking about that particular to me in my specific situation. I know my dad is an atheist and I will never forget. This was, you know, because I grew up in an unbelieving household in South Africa, my only godly influence in my life was my grandmother.

[7:37] And I grew up in a culture where cultural Christianity was still very evident at that time. And so we were churched. We went to church because I was in boarding school that was required.

[7:50] My grandmother would come pick us up and take us to church. But my grandmother was a true, true true godly woman um i am extremely thankful for her prayers over the years because i'm 100 know my grandmother is a part of my my coming to christ i do not have a memory of ever not believing but i certainly did not live a godly life because i did not grow up in a godly household And so when your godly influence is your grandmother and you're 15, 16, 17 years old, sometimes you just think that's old fashioned. And so that was kind of what I believed my grandmother to be. In hindsight, I recognize my grandmother was a very godly woman. This is my mom's mom and so my fast forward when my husband and I got married we moved to the United States initially we didn't attend church because we didn't start our marriage off in a godly fashion we didn't start our marriage off in a really good way at all the first year was pretty gnarly and we had just emigrated to another country so I just really remember thinking to myself suck it up buttercup. You really have no choice. You're married. Nobody's divorced.

[9:10] You just better muddle through this. But then years later, I got pregnant. We had our daughter. That was when my husband was converted and we started to attend church.

[9:22] This was when we started to actually live a godly life and truly understand what it is to be a Christian, how to stand different from the world, how to actually think like a believer, how to have a mindset of a believer, how to look at the world from a Christian viewpoint.

[9:45] And I'll never forget my parents would be coming to visit us in the United States a couple of times a year, once a year, because they were in the process of emigrating and, We had a lot of conflict because we would not be watching certain programs in

Conflicts with Unbelieving Parent

[10:01] our house on television. My dad and I would fight because as an unbeliever, he would be watching those television programs and I didn't want them in my house. So we had a lot of conflict. And I remember one day thinking to myself or recognizing that my dad particularly did not believe that we were really different to other people, because I think he believed that when they came for those four weeks, we just kind of put on a show for four weeks, and the rest of the time we lived just like them, in an ungodly fashion, in an unbelieving fashion.

[10:38] But when they emigrated to the United States, it became very evident to them that my husband and I have have a vastly different life than what they do. And I'm not just talking about going to church on Sunday, which is certainly a part of it, but our lives are entirely different to my dad. We do not live in conflict all the time. My husband and I argue, for sure, we have argued before, but we don't live in constant conflict, right? We don't constantly bicker and fight and watch terrible programs on TV, whether it be pornography or all these other things or, you know,

Spiritual Component in Dementia Caregiving

[11:24] ungodly programs, right? So our lives are extremely different than my mom and dad, but how that plays out now with my dad as an atheist has really been an eye-opening experience for me because part of.

[11:46] We talk frequently in the dementia caregiving space of things like challenging behaviors, which I say are normal behaviors, just magnified. But now we have the spiritual component too. Some things that people exhibit when they are living with dementia is directly related to changes in their brain. Some types of dementia are directly related to lifestyle choices and or sinful habits that people have had over the years. So there's lots of factors that go into it. But something that we don't talk about frequently is the spiritual component of it. So now when I'm helping my dad, when I'm trying to help my dad, who is an atheist, some of the spiritual stuff is being magnified, the behavior is actually being magnified by my dad's spiritual lostness. And I truly am starting to recognize that that is the biggest battle that I'm in related to taking care of my dad is not so much the dementia caregiving per se. It is the spiritual component of caregiving to a person who is an unbeliever because we have nothing in common. He has no hope for the future. My dad has everything.

[13:13] All the good things are on this side. I think of the story in the Bible where he talks about, Abraham, please ask Lazarus to give me some water through the chasm, right? And I recognize that my dad, he has the best on the side. Unless the Lord converts him before he passes away, this is as good as it gets for my dad. But what it translates into in a caregiving perspective is that It doesn't matter what I do. It doesn't matter what I say. It doesn't matter how soft or gentle I am. It doesn't matter what I try to do to help him. All I get is anger. That is my dad's default setting. It doesn't matter how I try to present it. If I open my mouth, my dad is yelling at me. And so my husband and I are starting to really recognize part of that is his not being able to control his emotions. Part of that is because he's always been an angry person. But part of it is his spiritual battle with me or his spiritual battle, period. And so my husband and I have gone through multiple iterations over the last.

[14:35] Three years of how we're going to help my parents, and that has framed a lot of our decisions. But all of our decisions come from a perspective of he and I first, my parents second. And I will walk through water and fire to help my mom because I do believe that she is a smoldering wick. But what I have come to recognize is it doesn't matter what the situation or the circumstances are. For me and in my particular struggles with my particular relationship with my husband, we will never be able to live with my dad because it would destroy our relationship, my husband and I. And I have left and cleaved. So what that means is my primary role and responsibility is as a wife to my husband and not as a daughter to my father. So we have strategically taken decisions, made decisions over the last several years to empower us to be in a position of strength should my father require 24-hour supervision,

Importance of Biblical Perspective in Caregiving

[15:46] but it will not be provided by me and my husband. And so the reason for my conversation today is because every decision I make when I help family caregivers living with children.

[16:02] Um people with dementia or helping people with dementia comes from this christian perspective comes from this christian worldview and so every decision that you make as a family caregiver, depends on your several relations and stations that the lord has put you in if you are married your primary responsibility is to your spouse. If you are an unmarried daughter, then you have a little bit more leeway to be able to adjust or change. If you are a married spouse, then a different relationship and station that you're in when you are caregiving. And each one of the plans that we implement, each strategy that we implement, each decision that we make, as a caregiver has to be framed through a biblical and Christian perspective.

[17:01] And even more so when you are the family caregiver, the daughter of a person who is an atheist as a parent. And so, like I said, today's episode was a little bit different. I have found tremendous, tremendous peace in my journey as a caregiver, as a daughter, even though my dad is an atheist. I have found tremendous peace in knowing that it is not up to me to convert my father. It is up to Christ to convert my father through the Holy Spirit, if it be the will of the father i know that i do not deserve any better than he and that keeps me.

Finding Peace in Caregiving as a Daughter

[17:55] Humble and on my knees and grateful to the Lord Jesus Christ for saving my sorry soul because I could just as well be my father. And so it really is important to you as a family caregiver to recognize some of these battles that we are facing as a caregiver related to dementia, or not just in the physical realm, not just in the changes in the brain, not just in strategies and techniques, but also in spiritual realities and that unfortunately sometimes the spiritual reality of the person that you're caring for can significantly impact your ability to provide effective care and if you are that person know that as long as your conscience is clear that you should not feel bad if you cannot be the primary caregiver.

[19:07] Your responsibility at that time is to ensure that that person is cared for, but that does not mean that you are necessarily the primary physical caregiver. So what can you do? Well, you can continue to pray for the person who you are supporting and helping. You can continue to pray for me that the Lord will continue to bless this business

Call to Impact Christian Dementia Caregivers

[19:35] that I have in helping people living with dementia and their caregivers because it is my ministry. And my hope and prayer for this ministry is that it be able to vastly and deeply impact thousands of people all over the world who are Christians specifically struggling in a caregiving role with somebody living with dementia. So a couple of easy things that you can do. The first thing is you can join my Facebook group. It's called Christian Dementia Caregiving, just like the podcast. So join the Facebook group. If you're ready to really explore a little deeper what it means to actually work with me. I do a free dementia audit.

[20:26] To one listener per month, you can sign up for that. The link is on the website or in the show notes. And for the last time in July, on the 13th of July, I am doing my final Christian, caregiving challenging behaviors workshop this month. And so you can join me live in a Zoom room for a two-hour workshop where I teach you how to manage some of these challenging behaviors. So those are three easy ways that if you're ready to explore working with me a little bit more, if you want to know a little bit more about how I work with people, I invite you to take one of those three avenues. They're all three super simple and easy.

Request for Prayers for Unbelieving Father

[21:16] The link is in the show notes below. I poured out my heart today to you related to being a daughter of a parent who does not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ my prayer is that you pray for my father and that we all pray that he be converted because ultimately that is the biggest burden on my heart because I know where he will be for eternity and his days are numbered so that is that is my request that is my prayer Pray for my parents, specifically my father, who is a militant, self-professing atheist. And then pray for me for wisdom related to how to be a better daughter, caregiver to my father without impacting my own health and relationships with my spouse. house. I thank you, as always, for being here today. I hope my pouring out my heart was a.

[22:18] Blessing to you and an encouragement to you to know that you are not alone, that we all have these burdens to carry, but we are not tasked to carry them alone. The Lord is there to help us carry our burdens. He tells us in scripture, his burden is light. So in light of that today, thank you for being here. Thank you for listening. If you enjoy these podcasts, please share them with other people. I do want to expand my reach, not for self-serving reasons, but to serve you. So as I end, if I remember all of my podcasts, may the Lord bless you and keep you and I will see you in the next episode.

Lizette as a family caregiver

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About the author

“Think Different” Dementia’s owner, Lizette Cloete, OTR/L graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1992. Lizette has almost 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings, the latest being in the home health environment. She enjoys teaching on the topic of dementia, most recently presenting at a national conference on the topic “Dementia Made Simple”.

Disclaimer: These blogs, videos and any work done by Lizette Cloete OT, as a Member of Think Different Dementia, LLC, is given only as educational content and consulting work. This does not create an Occupational Therapist-Patient Relationship. The educational content and consulting work performed should not be considered medical treatment as an Occupational Therapist. The consulting work does not take the place of medical work normally performed by a licensed Occupational Therapist. Please consult a licensed Occupational Therapist for medical advice.

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