Embracing the Light: Finding God in Alzheimer's

Embracing the Light: Finding God in Alzheimer's

The Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center hosted its 2nd Annual Finding God in Alzheimer's conference on February 28, 2024 in Nashville, Tennessee. At the core of this program is the belief, as articulated by Pam Cowley, Public Health Manager at the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer's Center, that "spirituality has been shown to positively affect feelings of hope, self-esteem, cognition, maintaining physical functioning longer and handling adversity." Cowley underlines the holistic approach needed in addressing the multifaceted challenges posed by Alzheimer's disease.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Fayron Epps, and her interdisciplinary team have taken a groundbreaking step by collaborating with African American faith communities to equip families facing Alzheimer's with essential tools and supportive resources. Ethan Crews, Manager at the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA), a co-sponsor of the event, said, “this initiative not only recognizes the unique challenges patients and their families face, but also leverages the strength and resilience inherent in their spiritual practices.” Crews went on to say that, "the feedback from participants at the event was a testament to the universal impact of Alzheimer's - touching individuals, families, and broader social networks, while underscoring the heavy burden shouldered by caregivers."

The partnership between the Vanderbilt Memory & Alzheimer's Center, its Community Advisory Board, and the involvement of the MVA in the Finding God in Alzheimer's conference exemplifies how community and academia are powerful allies who can help caregivers and patients. By bringing together community-informed resources and educational events, this initiative stands as a testament to the commitment to eliminating health disparities. The success of such programs highlights the importance of fostering capacity building within communities, ensuring that support is not only available but also accessible to those who need it the most.

The Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA) is a 20+year partnership between Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center that serves to advance the shared interests of our institutions and community partners. The MVA is the epicenter of collaboration, capacity-building, and community engagement for health equity in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

Community advocates fellowship with one another between panel discussions.