Coming to Peace with God and Dementia

                      the peace of god

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 46:4And 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 49:13Shout 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

Well Done My Faithful Servant!

purpose

This is it. We have one life to be our very best.
To make the most of every day; to live our lives with zest,
To value most the things that last; to not be easily daunted,
To focus hard on good and right and blessings God has granted.
Though life is sometimes filled with trials; still what a gift it is!
There’s always good, if we’ll just look, for God is in our midst!

Each day live life like there’s no more, with purpose and intent,
With focus on relationships and in them, always give.
For when we reach our final hour, that’s all we’ll care about,
Not all the things that we acquired or a big bank account.
Did we love with all our heart? …Did we pour out kindness?
Did we forgive when we were wronged, like God’s forgiven us?

God has a special purpose, that He designed you for,
And you have gifts and talents, that should not be ignored.
For you can make a difference in this lost and lonely world,
And you are valued by our God, like gems and precious pearls.
We weren’t created to exist in passive isolation,
But we were made to grow and share Almighty God’s salvation.

When morning breaks take time to pause; commit the day to God,
Decide to bloom where you are planted and on each problem, trod.
Don’t be defined by past mistakes, but rather learn from them,
And you will blossom in your life and truly overcome!
Pride will never bring true gain… but it will bring a fall,
For there is nothing we can do, that God does not control.

Oh Father help us see in life, the things that really matter.
Help us fulfill Your glorious call and raise a victor’s banner!
Help us know our purpose, and help us see our gifts,
Help us rise when we could fall; pour courage into us.
Then on that day, when we stand before our God and Maker,
We’ll hear the words come from our God “Well done my faithful servant!”

Rhonda Shelford Jansen