Today’s post is a guest blog from Nancy Bowen Brown.
In today’s world, so many people find themselves in the role of caregiver for elderly parents, spouses, disabled children, or siblings. Nancy has spoken with many of these caregivers and shares their unique stories on her blog www.faithfilledcaregivers.com. Nancy feels that with God, we can offer help and hope to each other and find victory through sharing our stories. Nancy encourages you to read her blog and know that you are never alone.
Caring for a Family Member with Alzheimer’s Disease
Jane and her husband, Sean, had just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary and were enjoying an idyllic life as a couple with their college-graduated son, Ryan. They were planners and busy people, who didn’t like to sit still. Then their life changed dramatically as Jane’s mother-in-law, Eileen, came to live with the family in June 2015. Eileen had just turned 80 and has dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease. At first, it was very difficult, as it greatly changed their family dynamics and limited their regular activities. However, they learned that being openly available to God’s will in their lives is more than just lip service.
Over the past 25 years, sweet Eileen had suffered many losses, including her parents, two of her sons, and then her husband. Sean is her only remaining son. The stress and pain of these losses surely contributed to the rapid decline of her mental health, as she is very healthy physically.
Since Eileen had always been a very social person and a consummate hostess, they decided to enroll her in a day care center where she has activities throughout the day. Eileen has improved greatly; she is much more alert and excited about life since they made that decision.
They are always looking for ways to bring Eileen into family activities more often. For example, Eileen loves gospel songs, so on Sundays they tune into Gospel music and sing. Jane even bought Eileen a headset for Christmas. Eileen truly enjoys this activity, and it is fun for the whole family.
Jane says her husband and son are like Martha and Mary from the Bible. Her husband is the “Martha” person, doing such a great job of caregiving, making sure Eileen is always comfortable and has all her needs met. But her son is the “Mary,” who walks in the room and heads straight for his grandmother giving her a big bear hug, and they giggle and hug like school children.
Instead of becoming overwhelmed, they have learned to take it day by day and find solutions that fit into their family dynamics. They know now that Eileen has been a special blessing in their lives. God knew just what He was doing when He placed Eileen in their hands.
What Has Helped Jane:
· Reading Scripture has been a huge comfort to her.
· An activity basket for Eileen with clothes that need folding or socks that need to be matched. It helps Eileen to feel useful and helps improve brain functioning.
· Jane’s support group.
· Daily exercise like walking and yoga.
· She recommends the book, The 36 Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss, by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins
Jane particularly likes this verse as it refers to children returning hospitality to their parents, as Sean is so good to his mother.
1 Timothy 5:4 If a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents; for this is pleasing in God’s sight.
Thank You, Lord, for the gift of Eileen to this family. She has taught them so many important lessons: to be still, slow down, be more patient, embrace routine, and be more attentive to the needs of others. Father, we never know where life will lead us, so teach us to keep our eyes fixed on You as You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.