Offering comfort to caregivers, Alzheimer’s patients, and me
As I try to pass on solace to readers, some are returning the favor
I made a promise a few years ago, more to myself than anyone. I promised that if I were ever given an opportunity, I’d be upfront and honest about what it’s like in the trenches of Alzheimer’s disease.
I shared caregiving responsibilities for my dear mother, and when given an opportunity, I spoke truthfully about the illness that plagued her and how our care developed around it. Mind you, the promise was made long before I envisioned I’d have a platform for sharing.
I suppose — no, I’m convinced — that God transformed my heart’s desire into an answered prayer. Producing this column is an ongoing joy, but it’s also humbling. From one week to another, I write and wonder who, if anyone, will read the words I’ve written that sprawl across a computer screen? Will someone find them useful? I hope and pray to that end. I write hoping and praying that some reader will find encouragement.
Before her diagnosis, my mother was hospitable and had an encouraging word for each person she met. Even with the disease, she remained kind. Her life changed in many ways, but little about her personality was altered. She’d be delighted if her experience helped encourage someone in similar circumstances.
Encouragement from all directions
Dementia creates a difficult path for those with the condition — and for those who love them. My mother’s diagnosis broke our hearts, but we were granted the grace to soldier on. Though it was challenging, there was joy in our journey.
My mother had multiple supporters, but so did we: Our family was bolstered by friends who loved us. A group of women, friends of mine and my sister, prayed for us through our caregiving. It comforted us and brought to mind 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV), Bible verses that we believed applied directly to our situation: “Blessed be … the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
I’ve often thought about how pleased my mother would be if she knew the misfortune of her Alzheimer’s had assisted someone in navigating their plight with the disease.
I’m grateful for the grand opportunity to write this column. But in another way, it’s humbling because of the comments left by so many wonderful people deep in the trenches of caregiving or living with Alzheimer’s. Paraphrasing 2 Corinthians, they return the comfort with which they’ve been comforted.
Comfort from readers
Our situation as caregivers and patients is isolating. Somehow, knowing you’re not alone helps. Here are a few comments by friends of the column that reassure me.
“Thank you so very much, Ms. Burow! I have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and your article has uplifted my faith & spirits tremendously. I only have 1 granddaughter, age 8, who I love totally and gladly. We have a wonderful loving relationship: she is incredibly smart, articulate, funny, and joyful with me, and vice versa. Lotsa hugs and laughter. Your article has increased my happiness, and I will pass it on to my granddaughter. GBY! (God bless you.).”
“My 84-year-old wife of 59 years has [a disease]. It is similar to Alzheimer’s, with the same end result. Hope the brilliant people in the medical industry can find a cure for it ASAP.”
“I felt the same way caring for both parents ending up with Alzheimer’s and Lewy body dementia. I miss them every day.”
“My beloved husband of 52 years and I are just beginning to travel this uncharted and unknown path. It is early days, and mostly memory loss is affecting him. Living each day is giving me a glimpse of the future, but I remain committed to joyful days whenever possible and helping hands when I need them. I am also sure that I need to take care of myself so that I can be his bulwark for as long and as much as I can; his meds may be keeping him progressing at a slower pace down the Alz path, and all the research is buoying my hope. Blessings to each and every one of us learning things we hoped would never be.”
Thank you all for reading “Treading Dark Waters.” I pray you’ll be comforted with the same comfort my mother and our family received in our Alzheimer’s season, and in turn, you’ll provide solace to another.
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.