SIMPLE TRUTH: We simply never know, do we?

Published 9:50 am Wednesday, May 1, 2013

By Charles Christmas

Yesterday, I decided to give most of my day to visiting the local nursing home and selected homes of senior adults.

I felt “sent” and was able to relate in all of these visits. I found, of course, different levels of physical and mental health, and different levels of necessary caregiving in both the well-kept nursing home and the private homes. I concluded my day by reviewing and meditating on the dementia patients, their caregivers and family members, some of whom are caregivers, both in nursing homes and private homes.

The Mayo Clinic’s recent book, “Guide To Alzheimer’s Disease: The Essential Resource for Treatment, Coping and Caregiving,” gives us a definitive statement appropriate for today’s column: “Dementia is an umbrella term for many brain disorders that rob a person of memory and reason, and cause extreme changes to personality. These disorders are progressive and irreversible. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. By 2050, a projected 13 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s.”

I am no authority on dementia, but my family acquaintance with the disease is this: my father, three of my sisters and a brother had a form of dementia as described in the previous paragraph long before they died. Each excelled in their chosen profession. Four were cared for in nursing facilities, the other in her private residence.

Dementia/Alzheimer’s is no respecter of persons. You remember that former President Ronald Reagan had Alzheimer’s the last several years before his death. The “Iron Lady,” former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain, recently died with dementia. Two of my home visits yesterday with Alzheimer’s patients were with two of the finest former pastors in our county. You are aware of the truth in this paragraph. You never know if it will happen to you, to a family member, to your closest friend or to a neighbor. You never know what responsibility may be thrust upon you. Yesterday in the nursing home, I observed closely a loving husband gently caring for his wife, and also a caring wife lovingly attending her husband. In the home visit of each husband with dementia, I saw a wife showing love in action, seeking to meet every need possible.

We never know, do we? But on the other hand, there are some things we true believers do know, and we want to make them real in our courage, faith and attitude, as difficult as it may be. God says that we will not face any test in life but what many other people face the same, and he will make a way that we may be able to bear it. God desires to give us wisdom for our decisions and directions. He desires to give us inner strength, and for us to experience his all-sufficient grace. He desires to supply all our needs in every circumstance of life. God desires to teach us and enable us to become more like his son through our difficult times. He wants to talk to us, and for us to talk to him.

The Lord has spoken to me through my nursing home and home visits of yesterday one thing: “To whom much is given, much is required.” As every believer, I have at least one spiritual gift and other abilities. I am still in relatively good health; I have a car and some time. God says, “Bear one another’s burdens.” Yesterday, I saw some people who do not have what I have, and I saw some who have burdens that I don’t have; therefore, I am responsible. “He that knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin!”

“Love one another; not in word, but in deed and in truth.” I must spell love as “t-i-m-e,” and give some of my time to be some sort of a servant, to make someone’s burden lighter, and their day a little happier.

I recommend the book mentioned above, “Guide To Alzheimer’s Disease: The Essential Resource for Treatment, Coping and Caregiving,” without reservation. It is a simple, practical, well-indexed book. You can find what you need immediately, and with the least amount of searching and reading. I would think that being from the Mayo Clinic, it would be totally trustworthy. It has meant much to me.

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.