Helping to combat the loneliness of dementia through friendship

'Our society is changing; there is a rapidly ageing population'

What are we doing?

Our The Gift of Years programme aims to tackle the loneliness of old age by supporting people in this generation in practical ways. As part of the work, there are Anna Chaplains to older people who deliver spiritual care services and provide a way for churches to draw alongside older people. These ecumenical, community-based chaplains are promoting older people’s spiritual welfare. This approach was pioneered in Alton, Hampshire, and is now being used in a variety of contexts in other parts of the UK.

Anna Chaplains frequent clubs and groups where older people gather. Such chaplains also create opportunities for people in twos and threes to meet and talk, over books, poetry, crafts or other shared interests. They also make time to meet with people one to one.

Anna Chaplaincy
‘Dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, has overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in England and Wales, latest figures reveal. Last year, more than 61,000 people died of dementia - 11.6% of all recorded deaths.’
BBC News

Loneliness is a silent killer. You might be able to inoculate yourself against flu but the effects of spending prolonged periods on one’s own can be corrosive to the soul. There is so much to be grateful for, including the fact that we are living longer.

An Anna Chaplain is there to be an advocate, to say, 'Don't neglect older people; don't always focus on what's useful, beautiful and productive; actually there is meaningful life after the age of 60/65.'

When older people grow into a time of greater dependency, Anna Chaplains are there to help them navigate the choppy waters of old age.

Debbie Thrower, The Gift of Years

Debbie Thrower

How can you help?

Might you or others be interested in getting involved in this area of work? Find out more on The Gift of Years website.

Listen to Debbie Thrower's interview on UCB1 (starts at 37.39 minutes) about dementia and Anna Chaplains.

Pray for the work of The Gift of Years and for the enthusiasm, energy and encouragement of Anna Chaplains as they work with older people, especially those with dementia, in care homes and in the community.