When my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease almost exactly seven years ago, my first response was an overwhelming sense of empathetic love for her. I spent a lot of time researching the latest treatments for dementia. I gladly adjusted my schedule to accommodate her escalating need for my presence. I treated her with teary-eyed solicitousness. No need of hers was too inconsequential to warrant my attention and concern. I gave no thought for myself.
That was a
We are told that Alzheimer's is a terminal disease and also that it is a long goodbye. As caregivers, we don't fully understand either of those concepts when we are at the beginning of our journey through Alzheimer's. The shock of the diagnosis itself along with forced acceptance of the fact that a loved one is going to require escalating levels of care is overwhelming. However, once the ho hum day-to-day routine of taking care of the loved one is established, it is inevitable that at some point a thought such as the following occurs:
"This is not what I had in mind!"
As a Christian I've tried to squelch such thoughts. Although taking care of my mother for seven years and counting is certainly not what I'd have planned for myself, it is obviously the Lord's will for me. There came a point at which I had to choose to give up my ineffective faunching at the bit of my circumstances. This was not an entirely selfless decision; I was uncomfortable, and I was making those around me uncomfortable. There is peace in submission, not to the circumstances themselves, but to the Lord who authored the circumstances. Being able to trust that God is in control is far superior to waking up at 3:00 a.m., trembling with fear of what is going to happen during the next few years.
Unfortunately, this exchange of fear for trust has not been a one time transaction for me. I am sorry to say that even when I am doing my best to abide in the Lord, I am prone to fear. It's not for nothing that Isaiah 41:10 is my life verse: "So do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Another favorite is "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your path straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV 2011).
If, as a caregiver, you are sometimes overwhelmed by the thought that "This is not how I thought these years of my life would be spent," I pray you can find peace and comfort in the fact of the Lord's authorship of your caregiving journey.
Scripture: "They submitted themselves...like Sarah, who obeyed...You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear (italics mine)" 1 Peter 3:5b-7.
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me" (Philippians 3:12).