One of the great scourges today is Alzheimer’s. At present, over six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. That is 1 in 9 people age 65 and older and 11.3% of the senior population. Since 2000, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased by 145%. The burden of Alzheimer’s disease affects many of us in various ways – financially, emotionally, and spiritually.
Medical science is still looking for the causes of Alzheimer’s. There is a genetic connection, and Alzheimer’s also seems to be a product of environmental factors. God does not cause it, and so far, it appears to be untreatable. One of the blessings of Alzheimer’s is that the afflicted person is not aware of what is happening to them. In most cases, they do not recognize family or friends or what has taken place, good or bad, in the past.
I have seen that when we apply Christian principles, people with Alzheimer’s respond positively. First Thessalonians 5: 14 tells us to “comfort the feebleminded, support the weak and be patient with all men.” Alzheimer’s patients respond to kindness and love. As Christians, we have the unique perspective of putting the past behind us and accepting people where they are – not where they were 25 years ago.
If your view of life is “survival of the fittest,” you will have very little empathy for someone living with Alzheimer’s. That person is no longer among the fittest and may be a burden. On the other hand, if your view is that all humans have value and God will bless us for serving those in need, the burden of Alzheimer’s disease becomes an opportunity.
Matthew 25:21-40 finds Jesus talking about the blessing of serving others. Verse 36 speaks of Christians reaching out to help someone who is sick or in prison. Alzheimer’s is a kind of prison and is certainly a sickness. The need for us to bring love, care, and relief applies as much to an Alzheimer’s patient as to anyone else.
— John N. Clayton © 2022
Data from Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org) 1-800-272-3900.