My Second Favorite Book

My Journey Into Alzheimer's Disease by Robert Davis - A REVIEW

I don't even know where to start.  I have underlined so much of this book that I'm sitting here rereading it again just to choose my favorite quotes.  Everyone I've bumped into this week has gotten an earful from me about this man who wrote down his experience for others.  I've asked my family to please read it, and now I'm excited to share it with you all. 

Just like my Gary, Robert Davis was diagnosed with 'early-onset' Alzheimer's in his 50's.  He was enjoying a wonderful life as a pastor in Miami, Florida for 14 years, when he began the confusion began.  Married 30 years with 2 daughters, and busy with his ministry, his life was abruptly changed as he had to step away from his beloved preaching, counseling and shepherding.  His writing takes place during the early stages of the disease, and possibly into the start of the middle stage.  Some of the chapters were written by Robert, some by his wife, Betty, and some were edited by her. (Especially when he had lost the ability to write, and, though able to record his story, he repeated himself frequently and often had a hard time gathering his thoughts.)


At least half of the book is devoted to his personal history and spiritual journey.  He shares from his heart the deep struggles with the confusion and blank mind which would come and go, and how his relationship with God was able to continue.  Knowing what his walk with God had been like up to this point is important in order to understand how God takes a person where he is at, and continues working in their heart.
"I now realize that instead of holding on to God and pulling myself up by my exuberant faith, I have to relax and have the simplest childlike faith and let Jesus hold me."  R.D.

In the later chapters he tells what it's like for the person who's mind is confused and how to help them function at their highest ability.  He even relates what he would have done differently in comforting those with dementia in his congregation.
"...if I want to function at the top of my limited capaciy, I must establish a routine and keep to it.  It must stay away from crowds, blinking lights, too much emotional or mental stimulation, and must not become physically exhausted." R.D.
"Whatever reaches my ears with the loudest noise is that which penetrates into my consciousness and rules my perceptions." R.D.
"Perhaps if you have loved ones whose reading is impaired you could make tapes of their favorite Bible portions, Christian poems, or old hymns.  Thus at their time of need God can use your familiar voice to bless and comfort them with God's words." R.D.

I could hardly imagine someone with this illness composing a book.  It's obvious that A.D. effects people differently, but how could anyone form sentences and compose their thoughts with such limited cognition.  But then, Robert Davis had been a communicator by profession, for his entire adult life.  He loved to read, write, study, and speak.  As I've been around the Alzheimer's community for several years, I can see that the basic skills stay a long time.  Even though Gary is in the advanced stage, he still likes to work on little gadgets with his hands, and loves to bend wire with his duckbill pliers, then straighten it again.  So it makes sense to me that Rev. Davis could relate his experiences so well, especially with help from Betty, just as I help Gary by putting the pliers in his right hand and the wire in his left.

It is timely and specific to my questions.

I have longed to understand what it is like for Gary, and how I can better help him.  I am limited by Gary's silence.  If there are things that I can do, to minimize the confusion, and help him focus on what he loves, and what's important, I want to do them.  I pray for understanding and wisdom daily.  How often Gary and I have held each other while I have prayed for God to help us and show me what to do.  I have read many books on A.D. and none have been this helpful, because this time, I was able to get a glimpse of what to do.  My mind is racing with ideas of things to do differently and ways to enhance Gary's life.

I have wondered how God works in Gary's heart.  I know He does, because He promised to, but how does a confused mind grasp it. Does it NEED to grasp it?  Gary was saved from his sins over 40 years ago.  Jesus promised, "I will never leave you or forsake you."  He will "perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish" all of His own.  "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8) So there is no doubt in my mind that Gary is safely nestled in the arms of Jesus and his soul is being nurtured day by day.  I am sure God works differently with each of his children, but just reading about Robert's walk with God is SO comforting to me.  Here is another believer, 20 years ago, on the opposite coast, that was being loved and cared for by God, and he knew it, and wrote about it, and it has ministered to my heart.  I believe the Lord sent this book to me to bolster and encourage me and help prepare me for whatever comes next. 


The Bible of course is my favorite book.  It's Gary's favorite too, and here's what Robert says about it:
 "I am learning to take strength and comfort wherever and whenever it comes to me.  Since it is no longer possible to feed my inner man through the usual channels of prayer, meditation, and Bible study, I am learning to be strengthened by words and instructions that suddenly pop into my mind.  To recall definite things, particularly under stress, is very difficult.  Somehow the more I try to think of something, the more the thoughts disappear.  However, at times certain things pop into my mind, much to my surprise and everyone else's.  I cannot read the Bible, but suddenly miscellaneous Bible verses come to mind.  I take these and think about them for as long as I can, enjoying their truths and praising God for this facet of blessing.  As I do this, I also have a reason to thank God for his goodness." R.D.
One of the MANY reasons the Bible is my favorite book is that it tells me that God is "intimately acquainted with all my ways." and "He cares for me."  I believe it.  When God gave me insight into Robert Davis' spiritual and mental journey, He was answering my prayers.


My Journey Into Alzheimer's Disease is only $9.86 on  It's only 140 pages.  If you have a loved one or friend with A.D. or you are a caregiver of anyone with dementia, you need this book.
Gary on one of our walks, December 2011.