Good Things about Alzheimer’s...

By Rob Perkins

Alzheimer’s is a horrible and dreadful disease. Julie’s dad has it and it has stripped him of his memory and left him a shell of his former self. He has a hard time recognizing those who he has loved the most in the world and after a lifetime of being the “rock” in the family... he cannot care for himself and is wholly dependent on others to survive. The pathetic thing about Alzheimer’s is that it doesn’t kill you very quickly. Your body can continue surviving long after your brain is gone.

Another pathetic thing about Alzheimer’s is that some families will not sign “do not resuscitate” orders so that some of these totally incapacitated folks are surviving, in name only, with stomach tubes and IV catheters in place. Trying to keep a body alive that wanted to die a long time ago.

So what’s good about Alzheimer’s? Seeing the love and compassion that is displayed by family members caring for their loved ones. That is a wonderful thing.

When Julie’s dad was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s she drove to Houston every week to help her mother care for her dad. That went on for several months. Now that he is somewhat stabilized and the family has adjusted to his situation she is able to go once a month.

Last Sunday we went to go visit her dad and I was able to observe a part of her life that I had not known previously. She has come to know on a first name basis many of the patients there... and she helps and cares for them.

When we went down the hall to see her dad a woman in a wheel chair was screaming for help. Julie called her by name and asked her what was the matter and helped her... even though it interrupted the time she was spending with her dad. Countless times she pointed out people to me and told me their names and what was the matter with them. She also told me some of the people were missing... obviously passed from their earthly existence since the last time she was there.

Those folks are very aware of when dinner time is and if they are able, they start slowly moving in the direction of the dining hall. Julie was pushing her dad in his wheel chair and an old incapacitated man was wedged with his wheel chair in a corner. Julie said, “Rob you push Daddy...I’ll help him”. When we got in the dining hall there were about 10 people already there and she started helping them put their bibs on. Those who were able smiled and thanked her.

Julie pointed out to me a cupholder that her brother Lonnie had attached to her dad’s wheelchair. As I looked around I saw that there were other wheel chairs with those same cupholders attached.

Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease and deservedly so, but the good thing about it is that it provides an opportunity for God’s people to shine and when God’s people are shining... God is glorified and... that’s good.

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