Alzheimer’s: Facing the Loss of a Lifetime
by Philip Bickel
The number of people impacted annually by various dementias across the United States is staggering—both in terms of those afflicted as well as the immediate family, friends and caregivers of that person. Well-known among these afflictions is Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Progressive and degenerative, this disorder alters the brain on a grand scale, producing extreme memory loss, severely impairing ordinary thinking and, in the end, causing radical personality change. Estimates are that somewhere around five million Americans have AD.
Author Dr. Philip Bickel offers four story-like scenarios to describe the stages (early, moderate, advanced and latter) of AD. In so doing, he gives readers some ideas on what to expect and how things frequently play out in such situations. Living with—or caring for someone who has—AD is no simple matter, and Bickel’s information is helpful for knowing what to likely expect and some sensible courses of action to take to grapple with the disease.
While the person with AD is facing a supreme challenge, the caregiver(s) who tends to the individual with this disease will find his or her stamina, patience and willpower taxed to the utmost. According to Bickel, these folks are the “unsung heroes” in this protracted ordeal, especially as the needs of the care-receiver constantly change with their deteriorating condition.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, while sobering, doesn’t mean life stops and there is nothing left to live for. It is one direction life may take, and millions take it each year. Ultimately, the Christian must acknowledge that God is in control—of everything, even a life claimed by Alzheimer’s. As Bickel writes, “No matter how our minds and bodies may fail, He remembers, and someday He will restore us to our true selves.”