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Minister offers Alzheimer's guidance
Writings help raise awareness
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Forsyth County News


A Forsyth County woman has authored an article for a major religious publication.

Pat Otwell, who holds master and doctor of ministry degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote “The ABC’s of Alzheimer’s Ministry.”

The article is featured in the February issue of Mature Living Magazine, a LifeWay publication of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Otwell is an ordained minister of the convention, although she says she doesn’t have any plans to pastor a church.

“I don’t feel that’s where my calling is,” she said. “My calling is more in chaplaincy ministry. I really enjoy working one on one with people since I tend to be a pretty shy person at heart.”

She said she became interested in ministry after her father passed away battling cancer.

“Because of his illness and death I came to see how much chaplaincy ministry meant to me and my family when he was hospitalized,” she said. “So I wanted to do for others in their time of need what had been done so meaningful for me.”

Her ministry led her to serve as a chaplain at three nursing facilities in Paris, Texas, in the 1980s and ’90s.

That service inspired Otwell to write a book titled “Guide to Ministering to Alzhimer’s Patients and their Families,” which was published in 2008.

For the magazine article, she said she drew on information she had gathered in her book.

“The article didn’t take that long to write, but the book was 20 years in the making,” she said. “I had already done the hard part in writing the book.”

The article provides simple, easy-to-follow guidance for church congregations or individual members who want to help Alzheimer’s patients and their families, Otwell said.

“There are a lot of people out there who want to do something and these are simple things people can do,” she said. “They can be done by individuals or groups like Sunday school classes.”

The article is fashioned in an A-Z listing, with bullet items for each letter.

Some of the suggestions include advocating for more Alzheimer’s research, being a friend and contacting those affected by the disease frequently to make sure their needs are being met.

Otwell said Alzheimer’s awareness has increased greatly since she began her work as a nursing home chaplain in 1983.

“I feel like I was really on the cutting edge back then because there just wasn’t that much information out there at that time,” she said. “We’ve make a lot of strides since then.”

She hopes to continue to minister to those impacted by the disease.

“My heart really goes out to people with Alzheimer’s and their families,” Otwell said. “It’s such a devastating disease and they need all the help they can get.”