Memory’s Chaplain: A Conversation With Lynn Casteel Harper

Rev. Lynn Casteel Harper, a minister of older adults at The Riverside Church in New York City, discusses her book On Vanishing: Mortality, Dementia and What it Means to Disappear, a call for communities of faith to rethink the value of people coping with memory loss.

Finding a Calling: A Passion for Serving Those with Dementia
Lynn Casteel Harper shares what drew her into chaplaincy and how an unexpected message sparked a curiosity and passion for serving those with dementia. Introducing her personal experiences with her grandfather, Harper wrestles with guilt and the challenges caregivers too often face alone.

Rethinking Darkness: Getting Comfortable with the Shadows
The conversation continues as Harper reflects on how the language around memory loss reveals a society that prioritizes the young and healthy. She challenges faith leaders to rethink the metaphors and practices of institutional care through a social justice lens.

Ageism and Covid-19: A Social Justice Issue
Harper shares how her own risk for dementia inspires her efforts to educate the public and advocate for changes in policy and practice. From the Trump Administration’s reduced oversight and relaxed fines for infection control violations in long-term facilities to the underpaid caregivers who are disproportionately women of color, Harper calls for a change in social policy. A change she argues will only happen if it’s a public demand.


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