November 23, 2018

Definitions, resources—and saints!—for Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers

Criterion staff report

Knowledge and assistance are powerful tools when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or dementia—which are not two different names for the same thing. Listed below are just a few resources for caregivers of those with AD or dementia.


  • Dementia, per An umbrella term for a set of symptoms, including impaired thinking and memory. Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia, but among other causes are strokes (vascular dementia), vitamin deficiency, drug interaction and diseases such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob. Some forms of dementia are reversible and curable.
  • Alzheimer’s disease, per A form of dementia identified by impaired thought, impaired speech and confusion caused by a build‑up of plaques and proteins leading to the blockage of synapses and the death of brain cells. It progresses through parts of the brain in stages and, at this time, is irreversible and incurable.


And don’t forget these saintly spiritual resources:

  • St. Dymphna, patron saint of those with mental health issues.
  • St. Louis Martin, father of St. Thérèse of Lisieux (the Little Flower), who suffered from dementia in his last years.
  • For caregivers: Servant of God Leonie Martin, daughter of St. Louis Martin who served as his caregiver throughout his journey with dementia. As a Servant of God, her cause for sainthood was put forth by a bishop and accepted by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. If the pope recognizes her as having lived a life of heroic virtue she would receive the title of Venerable. Verification of a miracle will earn her the title of Blessed, and verification of a second miracle will raise her to the level of her sister, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and her parents, Ss. Louis and Zelie Martin. For those desiring to provide care but unable to do so: St. Thérèse of Lisieux (the Little Flower). St. Thérèse adored her father, calling him “my king.” As a cloistered Carmelite nun, she suffered great sorrow at being unable to care for or even visit her father as he struggled with dementia. For more on the story of St. Louis Martin’s struggle with dementia and his caregiver daughter Servant of God Leonie Martin, go to and (both case-sensitive). †


Related story: ‘God was always there’: Caregivers say ‘faith was part of the journey’

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