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When I woke up this morning, a word that most of us don’t wish to talk about, but it is one we must accept as being real. Recently, there have been cases of this dreadful disease right in our presence. Most of us, I would venture to say have had either family members or friends to be diagnosed with Alzheimer. It is alarming and heartbreaking to know or see a person functioning properly or in a normal fashion, and suddenly there is a drastic change in behavior and memory. It is overwhelming to see a person so vibrant and alert drift off into another dimension. This week I have witnessed two families who are dealing with Alzheimer and they are devastated and rightfully so. It changes not only the victim, but members of a family who have to make provisions, decisions or take care of the love one. Most of the time the family becomes frustrated and broken, not only because of the Alzheimer, but because they do not know what to do or where to seek help. As I recently heard someone say, “We are all in this fight together: researchers, study participants, family members, and friends. Just imagine finding a cure for this dreadful disease and seeing a future without Alzheimer’s disease.” May we all do our part in supporting the efforts of finding a cure.
When we used to hear the old saints pray and say, “I’m so glad that when I woke up this morning and was in my right mind, I couldn’t do anything but thank God.” It was a testimony that all of us can appreciate and still give God thanks.
According to the National Institute of Aging, Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest of tasks. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear later in life. Estimates vary, but experts suggest that more than 6 million Americans, most of them age 65 or older, may have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s.
One of the observations for me has been the wear and tear on care givers physically, emotionally and financially. Again, in many cases they don’t know where to start. My first recommendation would be for the family or caregivers to find a support group. During my time of pastoring, I have had the privilege of attending a support group just to observe what they had to offer families and caregivers. I was deeply impressed to see persons share their experiences, bond with each other, receive emotional comfort, receive resource material and much more. Regretfully, the pandemic impacted the support group in such a way that in-person sessions were discontinued. It is a joy to recognize and express sincere appreciation to Sisters Barbara Stevenson and Gabriel Peace for the services they have rendered to so many families in the past.
Secondly, surely a church can help a family in some way. Maybe prepare a meal, run errands, or provide coverage so that the care giver can take a break. Too often we watch families suffer and become overburdened because they have no alternative, but to carry the load all alone. I believe one of the weaknesses of the Church is the lack of support given to members once they have become unable to be a participant in different aspects of the Church. In other words, we have a tendency of forgetting people when they are unable to pay their tithes, attend worship, serve, etc. It does not have to be a person with Alzheimer, the mere fact that one has become old and fragile have been reasons for persons to be forgotten and overlooked.
Thirdly, support the Alzheimer’s cause with your financial contributions. There are many organizations who sponsor walks, workshops, etc. that would readily receive your gifts. You may even call the Alzheimer’s headquarters for more detailed information.
The closest thing to describing a deterioration of the mind and thinking in the Bible can be found in Ecclesiastes 12:6, “before the silver cord is removed, and the golden bowl is crushed, and the jar at the spring is broken, and the waterwheel for the cistern is crushed.” Please read Ecclesiastes 12:1-8.
The “Golden Bowl” is the brain that contains our precious memories that cause us to function in an independent and normal manner. The crushing of the golden bowl describes the breaking down at death of the brain and its functions in the bowl-like cranium of the head.
What we must remember and hold onto is the fact that no matter what our circumstances, there is still hope. The Bible tells us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans8:28). God does not say that all things are good, but He does work for the good in all things.
Not a sermon, just my thoughts!
Robert Earl Slade, Pastor