Not very long ago, a friend asked me to give her a ride to a book signing because she didn’t feel comfortable driving on the busy interstates anymore. Since she was offering me a space at her table and I didn’t have anything else to do, I readily agreed.
In further conversation, she let it slip that she had what the doctors suspected was early Alzheimer’s. That was the main reason she didn’t want to drive any great distances at any great speeds by herself. I couldn’t blame her. After hearing about EXPERIENCING GOD author Henry Blackaby’s disappearance last year (which was actually due to his blood sugar issues, and not Alzheimer’s, although several recent studies have shown there may be a link between the two), I can understand her concern. It’s easy to get confused when you have Alzheimer’s, and if you’re out driving alone, you may just end up in trouble.
Well, fast forward a few months. This same friend posts a Facebook status update that says something to the effect of: “I went to the doctor today. After four months of telling me otherwise, the doctor confirmed that I do not have Alzheimer’s. This is the exact outcome I was praying for, and I praise God for it. …But now, after months of catering to my every whim and coddling me, my children have decided that it’s time for me to be the mother again.”
As happy as I was to hear this…especially for her because I know this diagnosis bothered her (probably more than she let on), I also felt a little sad because not everyone gets to say this about their supposed Alzheimer’s. More than 5 million Americans are living with this illness, and their family members and friends are also having to learn to live with it.
Until you know someone who has Alzheimer’s, you aren’t aware how crippling the disease can be…or how stressful it can be on the ones who are responsible for taking care of the Alzheimer’s patient. There’s no magic cure for it. There’s no pill you can take that will just make it go away, although (as in the case of my friend) if you pray and ask God, He just might take it away—He is the Great Physician, after all. But sometimes God says, “No,” for His own perfect reasons, and that’s when you and your loved ones will need to learn to cope with the illness in the best way possible.
That’s just what Helping Hands Press author Carol Howell did in her bestselling book, LET’S TALK DEMENTIA: A CAREGIVER’S GUIDE. This is an invaluable, user-friendly resource to help family members and friends better appreciate the impact of dementia for the person living with it AND for those trying to offer support and help. Even though I’m not closely involved with anyone who has Alzheimer’s, I’ve read through this book (it’s a quick read), and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s living with (or knows someone who’s living with) Alzheimer’s. Ms. Howell speaks out of her own personal experience, and she offers a lot of sound, practical advice that is sure to be helpful to everyone!