Alzheimer’s Became a Blessing? – A Look at Caregiving and Alzheimer’s Disease
Editor’s Note: This is fourth in a series of articles written by Ms. Linda Lawrence that addresses the challenges and blessings in caring for an aging parent.
When asked what I most feared, I always answered: “Having my mother need to live with us, or having someone in the family with Alzheimer’s disease.”
Both of those fears have come to pass – and much to my surprise they have both turned out to be a blessing. Mom, with Alzheimer’s, lived with my husband and me for three years before she needed more physical care than I was able to give her. She was then in a local adult care home for almost two years before she required a nursing home.
God used Alzheimer’s as a refining tool in my mother – pruning away the attitudes and abilities that kept her from being the blessing she wanted to be. Mom, at her weakest, is now blessing us with an example of each of the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5. The transformation I’ve seen in her has removed the fear of developing Alzheimer’s myself.
Mom is poor in spirit, thinking Alzheimer’s has robbed her of any ability to bless. She is dependent on Medicaid for financing her care needs; she is dependent on caregivers for her most personal needs. Her body is shriveling, as is her brain, but her contented spirit expands and she blesses others as she hums and sings, God is so good… God is so good to me. She is blessed with breathing the air of the kingdom of heaven while here on earth.
Mom has experienced her Heavenly Father’s comfort as she mourned loss during her life – whether it was broken promises or declining mental and physical health. She also has a reputation for mourning her sin. One of her caregivers remarked that
if Mom lets out a complaint she “repents for a month!” Her dad died when she was five and she learned early to go to her Heavenly Father for comfort. Peace, peace, wonderful peace, coming down from the Father above… is a lullaby that cradles her.
“She doesn’t know God,” Mom said of one particular insensitive caregiver. “I need to forgive her.” Mom extended mercy to people who hurt her. She often prayed for Dad, “Father, forgive him. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.” Now she is enjoying the fruits of living under God’s mercy, which causes her to often break into song: I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever, I will sing; I will sing.
In her 60s Mom served those she called “my dears”, the elderly in her community – going far beyond the call of duty. Their response to her gentle, sacrificial ways gave her the earthly satisfaction of being a blessing. Living for Jesus, a life that is true. Striving to please Him in all that I do… She doesn’t remember how to write her name, but she can still harmonize.
Her whole life she hungered and thirsted for righteousness, and her Lord Jesus does satisfy her. ‘Tis so sweet to trust in
Jesus; just to take Him at His word, I heard her singing as soon as I entered the lobby of the nursing home. We finished the song together proclaiming to those seated in the line-up of wheelchairs in the corridor the joy of trusting the Lord.
God is the One who is making Mom pure in heart and revealing His sweet presence to her, and whether she is in her wheelchair or bed she walks with Him and she talks with Him and He tells her she is His own.
Through the years her overly-zealous attempts to lead her husband and children and grandchildren into making peace with
God brought her persecution – especially from her husband. But she heard the Father call her His child, and the pain of rejection by the people she loved has only caused her to be a stronger witness to the joy and blessedness of being a child of God.
There were many years when Mom was so annoying that I cried, “Oh, God, please don’t let me be like my mother!” But today I pray, “Help me be like my mother, Lord.”
The sum of the former annoying things about Mom do not compare with the value and blessing of the gift she gives today. Her contentment, peace and joy fill me with awe. How I hope to be able to bless my children by being content with whatever God chooses for me.
Each day I walk home from the nursing home overflowing with gratitude to God for how He transformed the things I feared the most into daily blessings.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda Lawrence is retired and resides with her husband, Carl, in Corvallis, Oregon.
COMPLETE SERIES TITLES:
Drifting (Part 1 of Series by Linda Lawrence)
Hug Your Mother (Part 2 of Series by Linda Lawrence)
How Can I Be A Caregiver? (Part 3 of Series by Linda Lawrence)
Alzheimer’s Became a Blessing? (Part 4 of Series by Linda Lawrence)
Treasured (Part 5 of Series by Linda Lawrence)
The Shepherd Restores a Soul (Part 6 of Series by Linda Lawrence)