Monday, November 19, 2012

The Lord is My Caregiver

During the past twenty years or so, there has been increased awareness of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.  A host of initiatives have come forth to improve public awareness and funding for research.

In the wake of all this new interest and knowledge, caregivers have moved into the spotlight.  We caregivers have a collective voice that speaks compellingly; we write books, attend support group meetings, and elicit empathy by the "noble" sacrifices we have made in order to do the work of providing care to others.  

At a recent meeting I attended, a list of the symptoms of "Caregiver Syndrome" were listed.  Daunting statistics about the well-being of someone who cares for the needs of a health compromised loved one were read.  The implication was that it is unwise to sacrifice oneself on behalf of another person, especially when that person is dementia afflicted and on the way out of this world anyway.  

This line of reasoning can lead to tragic outcomes not only for people who are in need of loving support as they go through the process of suffering and dying, but also for caregivers who receive the subtle message, "Put your own needs first."  A refusal to move into a caregiving role may in truth be a resistance to the honing influence of circumstances God would use to bring great blessing.  

The Lord has made it clear to me that my mother's concerns are paramount in His eyes. Mom is undergoing the final phase of her life journey and it's as though God says to me, "Do not abandon her out of fear for yourself. Be brave with the courage I will provide, be strong with the strength I give.  To say 'I can't' is to say that the Lord is not sufficient for your needs."  

I am strong with His strength, enabled by His enabling power to face down my fear and aversion to illness and death so I can stay by my mother's side as she nears the end of her life's journey.  "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants..." (Psalm 116:15) This is a solemn and precious time for my mother.  It's only right that her needs trump mine for now.  

There will be life for me after my mother's Alzheimer's. I have the Lord's assurance that He will see me through and that His promises to me will be fulfilled.  I don't have to worry about myself; the Lord is my Caregiver, I shall not want!  

8 comments:

  1. Once again, I applaud you for writing these brave thoughts, your convictions. Yes, even those with memory loss deserve the best and they deserve our time! How I wish I had known where to find you when I was teaching a class on dementia to new employees at the Retirement Community where I worked. I would have made your blog required reading =)

    Blessings to you!

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  2. Oh Doris, thank you, bless you.

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  3. Please pray for me. I have been looking for a caregiver. I have not succeeded. I will have to quit my job. God did not give me a spirit of fear.But its the feeling of fear. I can't just leave her. She would die in this house alone. She has not realize I have been off work now for three months. This is really a difficult situation. Only God can work this out for me.

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    1. Thank you so much for your prayers, you don't know me, but my spirit has been lifted. I always hug my Mom. We feel we are not alone now. Thank you again. My sister in Christ.

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  4. May The Lord bless you Linda. Cherish every moment that you have with your mother. Even the painful ones. Thank you for your blog. Your words give comfort to many who walk the same path. All the best. T

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  5. @Anonymous who is looking for a caregiver: I understand your fear and will pray for you. And thank you to "T"--blessings back your way.

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  6. Our loved ones deserve the very best of care. I think that people who say we need to take care of ourselves first simply mean that in order to have the strength and health to care long-term for someone else you need to be sure that you are healthy and strong.

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  7. Yes, Latane, it is true that caregivers must care for themselves. I have often emphasized this point and I thank you for stating this truth so clearly, because I neglected to do it in this particular post. However, it has come strongly to my awareness that since our patients do not have a lucid voice with which to state their own needs, we as caregivers must bear with honor the precious burden of speaking for them. We must be careful to keep the Lord's perspective, championing our patients and advocating for them. We do this when we identify with Christ's love for those who are weak. One of the strongest barriers to this kind of identification with another's needs is a sense of self-preservation. Time and again the Lord has brought me to a place of humility as I've realized I've drawn away from my mother out of fear that my own needs would be sublimated by hers. The Lord truly is my caregiver. The divine principal here is "die to live." When I die to my own agenda, I find that the Lord's yoke really is easy, His burden light. That's what I was trying to convey here.

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