I Was Just Thinking About – FORGETTING - DEMENTIA.
Its a given that we’re all forgetful at times, regardless of our age and mental health. However, as we age, our risk of dementia increases, and by the age of 85 almost 35-percent of those in your age group will be afflicted with this degenerative disorder that causes gradually and worsening memory loss and mental skills. Some of the common symptoms of Dementia are: (1) Memory Loss. It is an inability to recall short term memory (or recent events). A study from Rutgers University estimates that roughly 50-percent of all Americans over 85-years of age suffer with Alzheimer’s Disease and that more than half of all dementia cases are misdiagnosed. (2) Behavioral Changes. Personality changes that may include the opposite manners or personality traits or just being inappropriate in public can signify the onset of Dementia. (3) Cognitive Decline. This could be as simple as an inability to reason or a more drastic decline in cognitive functions - thinking, learning, reading and retaining information, problem solving, language and speech.
Within the Body of Christ, the Biblical Church, how should we cope with those who may be in some stage of Dementia? Does the Church know how to relate to one who struggles with Dementia or who is closing in on Alzheimer’s? A couple of guidelines that can be considered, learned and implemented are: (1) ACCEPTANCE: Romans 15:7, “Accept one another just as Christ accepted you.” (2) SHOW KINDNESS and Understanding: Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another.” (3) ENCOURAGEMENT: Hebrews 10:25, “Encouraging one another.” (4) PRAYER James 5:13, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them Pray!” Since so many are sketchy about Mental Health and those who are affected in some way with mental health issues, a tendency is to marginalize that struggling soul. That often means non-acceptance or avoidance. If a person has forgotten who you are, just smile and say – “I am Jane” or “I am Joe”, etc. Special effort should be made to include the person. It will require an increased measure of patience and encouragement.
A secular example of this care and assistance was seen in the life of Glen Campbell who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011. In 2014, a very compelling documentary about his journey and effort to cope, "I’ll Be Me”, was released. Part of the film shows him on a farewell concert tour as his condition worsened. One thing that stands out in the documentary is the acceptance and kind understanding of his family, staff, musicians and audiences.
Should the Biblical Church be able to show even greater patience, under-standing, kindness, acceptance and appreciation for one of its own? I hope it/we can and will emulate a similar compassion.
Prayerfully – consider these things with me!