Friday, February 1, 2013

Do Not Be Afraid of Alzheimer's

Most people feel an aversion to spending time with someone who has Alzheimer's disease, and I'm no exception.  I struggle with a host of negative emotions over spending much one-on-one time with my mother.  I take care of her physical needs and chat cheerfully to her on the run, but I don't like sitting down just to talk with her. I need to get past this difficulty because I know she needs my conversation and companionship as well as my caregiving services.  

Alzheimer's is repellant but that doesn't fully explain my avoidance of spending social time with my mom like I ought. I have come to realize I avoid Mom's disease because I am afraid of it.  Yesterday I wrote the following words in my journal: 
Alzheimer’s.  It is like a horrid and disgusting person has become bonded to my mother and--as though she’s in a second marriage that has provided me a revolting stepfather--I can’t ever go to visit her without being subjected to “him” as well. But I can’t justify avoiding my mom because this was not her choice.  She can’t help this association with this behavior-changing, oppressive, repellant disease.  I fear and hate it; show me how to continue to love my mother through it.  It occurs to me that if I continued to visit my mother although there was a horrid, hateful person sitting next to her, that the best course of action would be to ignore the other person even though it corrupts my interactions with Mom.  And that’s what Mom wants even now, to feel as though she’s being treated as she was pre-Alzheimer’s. 

Lord protect me from Alzheimer’s, in Jesus’ Name I pray. 

Here are the Scriptures that came to mind when I finished writing these words:  

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged becasue of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him" (2 Chronicles 32:7) 

Therefore, this is what the Lord, the LORD Almighty, says: 'O my people who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians, who beat you with a rod and lift up a club against you, as Egypt did...'" (Isaiah 10:24).  

Isaiah said to them, "Tell your master, 'This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard--those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blaspehemd me" (Isaiah 37:6).  

The common theme of these passages is DO NOT BE AFRAID!   

Fear is a normal response to the horror of Alzheimer's, but the Lord has repeatedly instructed me NOT to be afraid. 

When my mom was diagnosed, I began writing this blog in order to create a cumulative record of the Lord's gracious guidance in response to my cries for help. A book editor saw the blog and asked me to write a book for her company. In the first chapter at the top of the first page in this book are these words: 

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is frightening, to say the least . Don’t allow yourself to be paralyzed by fear—God is with you .

Notice the reason we are not to be afraid?  The Lord is with us!

The solution for conquering the fear of Alzheimer's is to spend much time with the Lord.  When we look at Him our hearts are encouraged, and those frequent Scriptural admonitions not to be afraid (65 of them in the NIV version of the Bible) become possible.  The Lord is on our side.  He's greater and more powerful than the disease we have feared.  

I've always been a scaredy cat, in fact, Isaiah 41:10 (below) is my life verse.  But even a cowardly caregiver like myself can move forward through the fear and sorrow of Alzheimer's influenced circumstances with peace.  We don't have to be afraid.  God is with us.

"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 (Isaiah 41:10)"