Q&A on Spiritual Concerns of Loved One With Alzheimer’s Disease

Senior male reading the holy book in room

QUESTION: My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a number of years ago and is now inactive. He always said he was ready to die and go to heaven, but I wonder if I am prolonging his life and keeping him from his goal.

ANSWER: As Christians, all of us desire the joys of eternal life in heaven. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:23,24). The Bible also tells us, “The LORD brings death and make alive; He brings down to the grave and raises up” (1 Samuel 2:6).

These passages, and many others, remind us that life in heaven is certainly more desirable, but God alone has the right to determine the timing. You should certainly rejoice in the faith of your father, but also realize that our eagerness to reach heaven does not allow anyone to assume authority from God.

Your first concern should be your father’s spiritual needs. Even if he cannot respond to you at times, never assume he can’t hear or understand you. Read the Bible to him, sing hymns and say prayers. These activities also strengthen your faith during these difficult times.

Regarding medical decisions, remember that God will take him at the right time. Your role is to provide care that has a reasonable expectation to accomplish its purpose and is meant to keep him comfortable. If treatment becomes futile, you need not provide it any longer. When death is expected within a day or two, you can rejoice that his earthly life is ending and his eternal life is about to begin.

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