Reasons to Be Grateful During Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
As a little girl in church, one of my earliest memories was the sound of an older man’s prayer.
Standing at the front of the congregation, this ancient gentleman prayed each Sunday, “Thank you, Lord, that you woke me up this morning, clothed in my right mind.” I had absolutely no idea what the prayer meant, and sadly, I can remember my siblings and I mimicking the elderly gentleman, who, in retrospect, was probably not that aged.
The joke’s on me because I understand the prayer today, and the exact words have escaped my lips.
‘Thank you, Lord, that you awakened me, clothed in my right mind.’
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. In the United States, about 5.8 million people have Alzheimer’s and related dementias, and the risk of developing the disease increases with age. Of the people in the U.S. who have it, 5.6 million are 65 years or older.
If you fall within that demographic age bracket and haven’t been diagnosed, like the elderly man from my childhood, be grateful that you remain clothed in your right mind. If you don’t fall within the age demographic, you should still be thankful since 200,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
June is designated Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. It was initiated by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, who died of Alzheimer’s disease in June 2004. Soon after, his daughter Patti Davis brought greater awareness to the condition in her book “The Long Goodbye: Memories of My Father.”
Anyone associated with the effects of the disease on a loved one can identify with its title. An Alzheimer’s diagnosis starts a process of letting go and saying goodbye as the person you love drifts into the throes of the disease. It’s difficult to endure the process as the brain tosses aside the clothing of a right mind.
Adapting a change of focus
Attaching gratefulness to a sound mind is appropriate, but it can’t be our single focus since dementia doesn’t respect people, even during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Today, I’m grateful to have awakened with a healthy mind, but what about tomorrow, next year, and the years to come? For what will I find to be thankful if my worst nightmare comes true, or where will gratefulness fall if my spouse is diagnosed? We must practice gratitude while we have the capacity.
Gratefulness is a healthy choice; cultivating thankfulness improves outlook and creates positivity. But in the face of dementia, what is there to be thankful for?
During Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, let’s be grateful for the following:
- Medical and scientific advancements moving us closer to a cure.
- Increased quality of life for patients who receive an early diagnosis.
- Clinical trials that provide access to new solutions.
- Improved dementia medications.
- Physical and mental strength to provide care for a loved one.
- Local and national organizations that support caregivers and families.
- Increased awareness.
- A cure is closer than we think.
Awakening clothed in my right mind is something for which I am grateful, but God’s grace also extends to those with cognitive challenges. Don’t avoid getting diagnosed if you or a loved one fear Alzheimer’s is on the horizon. An early diagnosis will increase your quality of life while living with the disease, and waking each morning will still hold new mercies.
Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.