The Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. 1 Chronicles 28:9
My daughter faithfully visits her dad’s father in the nursing home. Sometimes he does not recognize her or her children. He has dementia. There are other times that he recalls her antics of her youth and they share songs that she used to sing for him. He is anxiously awaiting heaven and during lucid times will pray with her and share how much he wants to go to heaven to be with his beloved wife and his many brothers and sisters who have preceded him in death.
Even in dementia, God is present in a real sense and can break through and manifest Himself in the minds and hearts of those who suffer from this disease but even more so in those who visit and serve those afflicted. Many of my friends have cared for parents who have dementia or Alzheimer’s. Their faithful care, sometimes over decades is a witness of love and patience. Their gift of time, talent and treasure to nurture their loved ones inspires me and others to treasure every moment and be just a bit more patient.
It is hard to watch erratic behavior and harder still to have a parent not recognize their child. One of my friends made an album of his mother’s life so when she had a moment of lucidity she could look back and remember. What that also did was help her caregivers recognize her as a woman of substance who had a disease that was depriving her of her faculties. They would talk with her in a more respectful way and converse about her career when she was “awake”. This simple gesture helped her be less frightened and perk up when she was spoken to about her past as a Fire Chief or a Army Major.
We each seek to be understood. It is special to realize that eventually when my mind shuts down, God knows me and is a part of me… understanding me even when I am incapable of understanding myself. I don’t have to wait for dementia to need that reassurance.
God, please send special blessings on those who are caring for aging parents. Help everyone who serves be patient and seek to understand. Be with those who will say good bye to parents until they are re-united in heaven.