You don’t know what a day may bring forth (Prov. 27:1). On August 20 of this year, I received a call from my dad…something was wrong. Fast forward one month—dad passed quietly from this life in his sleep after a short illness. For the prior 3-4 years, dad had been the primary caregiver for my mother. Mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Since dad’s passing, she has been living in a special care unit.
Mom is a special person: extremely bright, was a “straight A” student, an executive secretary by occupation (now retired), warm and kind and loving, a gentle soul. She has known and loved Jesus all her life.
I have had significant exposure to Alzheimer’s but always from the position of being a healthcare provider. Now I am seeing it firsthand in my mom.
There is general agreement of the changes that take place in the brain in someone with Alzheimer’s, but not all experts agree on what causes it. Medications are available that may slow the progression, but none offer a cure.
It seems that Alzheimer’s affects a person at all levels—spirit, soul, and body. Help for Alzheimer’s must also come at all levels.
To prevent and possibly treat this problem, the body needs to get good quality sleep (7-8 hours); eat healthy and exercise regularly; maintain a normal weight; avoid toxins; don’t smoke…in a nutshell, prevent the metabolic syndrome that causes heart disease and strokes. Alzheimer’s has actually been referred to by some as “diabetes of the brain.”
Regarding the soul, it is vital to stay socially engaged and to regularly be learning and doing new things (mental, social, and emotional stimulation).
Mom is a Christian believer. Therefore, it is good for her spirit to renew her mind to the word of God and to regularly worship and to do spiritual warfare against Alzheimer’s, dementia, and fear. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). I have stopped using the “A” word or the “D” word (dementia) due to the fear that is evoked when these words are used. There is similar fear evoked in many people when the word cancer is used.
Dr. Caroline Leaf, neuroscientist, teaches that people can change their brain (anatomy and physiology) by changing their mind—by changing the way they think. This is one example of neural plasticity where the brain forms new pathways. This could be very beneficial for mom and others with severe, debilitating memory loss.
Mom is actually doing well. She has adjusted well to her new surroundings. She has made new friends. She seems to be improving a little bit every day!