"HELP! Someone I Love Has Alzheimer's" Book Review

Gary reads the Christmas story to the family way back when we were just beginning the long, difficult process of finding out the cause of his cognitive impairment. 

Gary reads the Christmas story to the family way back when we were just beginning the long, difficult process of finding out the cause of his cognitive impairment. 

Our journey began some time ago, but I, too, have cried for help way back at the beginning and many times since.  I have had moments of desperation, curiosity, and unstable footing.  For me, the panic comes when I'm facing changes in Gary, which require further adjustments, before I'm up-to-speed on our options, or confident in the best solution.  The curiosity comes when things are settled down, and I want to know what's likely to be out there in the future.  Of course I believe that God has the future planned, and I don't need to worry, but there is wisdom in being prepared. 

Click to Amazon

Click to Amazon

My friend, Becky, found this little booklet in our church's book store. HELP!  Someone I Love Has Alzheimer's is a good resource for someone who is new to the adventure of Alzheimer's Disease.  It is written by Deborah Howard, RN, CHPN, and Judy Howe, BA, MA.  Both of these women have parents with this type of dementia. 

From the introduction: 

Only within the perspective of God's will can we begin to make sense of it.  Our perception improves when we view this disease through a spiritual lens.   No, dementia sufferers can't rise above dementia by the power of their wills.  No, there is nothing the family can do to "make it all go away."  But yes, we can find peace, joy, abiding love, and even humor along the journey."

In a personal account of her own family's story, Ms. Howard explains the physiological changes to expect in your loved one, including the warning signs, how it's diagnosed, the stages, and the treatments.  These subjects are handled briefly but with enough detail to gain a good basic understanding.    The next section is devoted to practical suggestions for caregivers.  Humility, patience and humor are the necessary qualities for good care giving.  Legal issues, handling medications, Dr. visits, nutrition, activities of daily living, exercise and the environment are discussed with some very helpful ideas.  For instance:

To maximize communication, reduce background noise when speaking to your loved one.
Assist your loved one, if necessary, in organizing policies, accounts and assets.  Make sure that two people know where these records are stored.
You need to maintain a complete list of your loved one's medications, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements.  (For each medication you should note the following: Medication name, Dosage, Time to be given, Who prescribed it and why)

The care giver has needs and these are addressed as well.  We must take care of ourselves, both physically and spiritually, or we'll have nothing left to give our loved ones. 

People generally want to help but don't know how.  Teach them by making specific requests.
"Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."  Matthew 6:22

The final section (my favorite) is about trusting God in the midst of adversity.  "How can we reconcile the goodness of God with our pain and suffering?"   Basic truths about God's character and the purpose of adversity are the reason we can be thankful in the midst.  This booklet closes with several pages on the importance of having a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, which is the ultimate solution to the confusion, fears, and sorrows of very real pain and suffering.  

The cross of Christ is the ultimate solution to the problem of suffering and pain.  On that cross, Jesus not only conquered sin and death, but he also entered into human suffering and can, therefore sympathize with us in it.  God, in his infinite grace, did not leave Christ on the cross, but raised him from the dead to reign with him forever.  Christ's life, death, and resurrection secured the eternal salvation of all who will trust in him. 
3 months after Gary's diagnosis

3 months after Gary's diagnosis

For less than $5.00, this 63 page booklet is a great way to introduce someone to Alzheimer's Disease from a Christian perspective.  I would love to have had this in my hands 6 years ago, when Gary was formally diagnosed with A.D., but it wasn't written yet.  I can already think of several friends I want to share it with right now.  I hope you find it useful as well. 

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