Dementia. That diagnosis is painful for everyone in the family, not only the one suffering from the disease. A year ago, my father’s ability to take care of his daily tasks diminished to the degree that he could no longer stay at home. My mother (my hero) had been his caregiver to that point. Once he was no longer strong enough to walk my mother was unable to keep him at home. So this month marks one year in an assisted living facility. We are so very thankful for the nurses, aids and others who give such great care to those in the elderly years who have lost their memory, language, complex motor skills, and other day to day functions.
Shortly after my father was moved into the estates (or as my mom calls it “the home”), the chaplain, who has such compassion for these most vulnerable men & women, shared a wonderful truth with me about my dad’s ability to connect with Jesus. His words have carried me through the sad days of seeing my strong dad deteriorating. “Jesus speaks Spirit to spirit. Nothing has changed in His ability to relate to your dad. Jesus bypasses the mind. He is still connecting with your dad with no hindrance.” Spirit-to-spirit. What comfort those words have brought. When I see a void in my dad’s eyes, I remember that he is connected to heaven because he knows Jesus. He has loved him for as long as he has been my dad.
A few weeks ago I was visiting my mom and dad. I love to go to church (chapel) with my dad and mom. This has become my mom’s church since my dad is not able to leave the assisted living place. At chapel, the chaplain leads in songs of old. There are so many beautiful hymns and I usually close my eyes and listen to the church goers (around 30) singing songs they remember from their younger years. During the message, some of those in attendance doze in and out, but the best part for me is at the end of the service. This is the time when the chaplain leads the congregation in the Lord’s Prayer. I am amazed every time how these words have been deeply imparted into the hearts and minds of these men and women. The chaplain leads and in unison, so gracefully spoken, every mouth speaks the words inviting God’s Kingdom to break in: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the Kingdom, the Power, the Glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 5:9-13)
What was deposited into my dad’s heart as a young man has been forever deposited into his heart. My dad may not be able to remember what day it is or what happened last year, but he has known the love of His Heavenly Father, he has the Word of God planted in his heart and none of that will ever be taken from him. When I visit I remind myself that he doesn’t know that he doesn’t know. He lives in every moment. He is not worried about tomorrow. He is not thinking about the future. He only knows the present.
I continue to pray for healing for my dad. I will pray for healing as long as he has breath. I pray for a reverse of the curse of dementia, healing from this disease (Psalm 103:3). I pray for my dad to have a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). I pray for health to his whole body~ spirit, soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). And I pray for a cure/the ending of dementia.
If you have a loved one who is suffering with dementia, know that God continues to speak, He continues to love, He continues to pour out His Spirit. That is His Nature and Character.