Over the last few years I’ve written occasionally about the struggles my husband and I have encountered caring for his aging parents afflicted with dementia. We’ve gone through times of great heart-ach and unintended moments of comedy. Together we’ve cried and laughed to ease the stress. And spent hours contemplating the best care for their ever changing needs. We’ve questions what good could possibly be achieved when someone is suffering from dementia. Our conclusion has been humbling; the good has been a growth in compassion and grace in us both.
We also had to come to a place of humble acceptance of God’s design for the aging process. Honestly, at times this was very hard. We asked many times, “God, why do some adult minds slowly decay, reducing strong capable adults to vegetables?” It’s so unfair. Understanding the science of dementia helped us, some. However, the question still burned, “God, how could Dementia or Alzheimer’s be part of your perfect plan?”
Searching for answers in the Bible I found one verse that addresses the decline of the human body as it ages; Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 talks about the deterioration of our vision, hearing, thinking and physical strength. However, it doesn’t address Dementia or Alzheimer’s like conditions. My husband and I, independent from each other, came to a place of peace where we humbly accepted God’s design and tried to lay our questions down before Him; we chose to have faith. Honestly, there were days when we’d start questioning God again making our selves miserable. But we’d always came back to a mindset of faith instead of disillusionment, finding comfort in God’s presence.
The absence of verses concerning Alzheimer’s or Dementia doesn’t mean God has nothing to say about the struggles and pain families and their loved ones go through when a parent’s mind deteriorates. The Bible promises that in the midst of our pain God offers us hope, comfort, and guidance. He hears our cries and understands our broken hearts. I also believe He is with our loved ones as they lose their ability to reason because His Word says He will never leave us nor forsake us; Deuteronomy 31:6. This has to mean He is with our loved ones all the way through the progression of these terrible diseases
Over the years we’ve seen God keep His promises too many times to list; He answered our prayers and comforted our battered hearts. A little over a year ago we needed to find a home that offered full care: bathing, dressing, toileting, etc. The home also needed to have a room large enough for both my in-laws, their two lift chairs, and their beds. Several homes suggested they separate and have their own rooms. My mother in-law would not hear of this, being separated from her husband of over 65 years was not an option; this was sweet and understandable. The new home also needed to be affordable. We found the perfect home where loving care was provided, my in-laws were happy, and it was affordable. God answers prayers!
This is my favorite answered prayer. Over the last year my father in-law slowly lost his ability to communicate. On occasions he’d say random words but mostly he lay quietly in bed. One day my husband was praying on his way to visit and asked God if he could hear his dad’s voice once more. During the visit my husband chatted with his mom then went over to his dad’s bed and spoke to him for a few minutes. Just before leaving my husband said, “I love you dad” his dad responded clear as a bell, “I love you too son.” God is good and faithful!
My father in-law passed away this week. He is at peace. His mind has been restored. We are grateful his struggle is over and thankful for God’s comfort during these long and difficult years.
Here are two verses I especially like.
Isaiah 46:4 “And I will still be carrying you when you are old. Your hair will turn gray, and I will still carry you. I made you, and I will carry you to safety.” I love the image of God carrying my father in-law to safety in heaven; what a comfort!
Isaiah 49:13 “Shout for joy you heavens; rejoice you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.”
Debora Shelford Hobbs