Chapters 11-25 of Your Life

” I would rather die than live like that” is an expression I have heard countless thousands of times while discussing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease with visitors in my facility.  “Just take me out back and shoot me if I ever become like that”, ” I hope the Good Lord takes me before that happens to me” and my most favorite , ” I will drive my car off a bridge if I ever catch what they have”, (referring to dementia).  I do understand how devastating it may be for  someone not familiar with the disease process to see first hand a dementia patient, but gee whiz, some of the comments people make are way out of line.  When I sit down with  these  types of families, I feel like my facility is a three-legged dog and pony show, not a place of care, comfort and contentment.    My thought is this, “WHAT is wrong with the these people who waltz into a dementia care facility, obviously seeking information for a loved one, but yet declare they would rather die than live like ” that”. What exactly is “that” ??????????

Look, aging is one thing every single human being will accomplish in this life. Now, how we age, and the disorders, diseases or drawbacks that offset us  do not define who we are! What has happened to compassion, kindness and consideration for others??? Regardless of  what is in your medical chart, you are the same person that you were prior to being labeled with a given disorder. Labels. That’s what it all boils down to. Labels.

Oh, you have diabetes. You are a diabetic. Oh, you have a heart condition? You are a cardiac patient. Have Alzheimer’s? You are a dementia patient.  Over age 70? You are elderly, quick call AARP and start getting discounts……

You know, life does not stop because of your age, mental status or illness. Regardless of what happens to you, you still have something to offer, you are still a person of worth and value.  Did you know that dementia patients give the greatest hugs int he world? Did you know that diabetics have the most beautiful smile you have ever seen , as they gobble down a piece of pineapple upside down cake? Giving. It’s not about the labels assigned to them, it’s about what they have left to give. The gift of a hug or a smile is often the most sincere gift any person can give………

I often think about Abraham, from Genesis. We meet him for the first time in Genesis Chapter 11. Guess what? He is 75 years old!  We learn of death a few pages later in Genesis chapter 25…….but wow, just wow, at the things he accomplished, starting at age SEVENTY- FIVE.    Second to Moses, no other Old Testament person  is spoken to or referred to more than Abraham. He left his country, lived on mountain, offered his son as a sacrifice, and accomplished so many things for the Kingdom.

Age didn’t hinder him……labels didn’t impede him, he moved forward and onward. I guess the question we should be asking ourselves is…..what will we do in Chapters 11-25 in our lives? We all have something to offer, a smile to give, a hug to share, regardless of the page we are on in our lives…..we still have something to offer……….

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10 thoughts on “Chapters 11-25 of Your Life

  1. Love this! As I sit with my patients, it is such a wonderful experience to see their humanity! I was sitting around a table, with three other dementia patients. One of them was constantly caring for the other. She was the most sincere person, and a true servant at heart, even at EOL. She was trying to pick a linen off the pants of another patient. I noticed this, and picked it off for her. Her face nearly lit up. Without words I knew what she was thinking, “you SAW me!” For a glimpse of time, she felt connected again, to the people around her.

    Even though, I never speak much with my patients, they always say “thank you, thank you for coming.” We establish a connection that goes deeper than any words can communicate.

    I mean 90% of communication is non-verbal. If we lose our ability to speak, does that mean we can’t communicate? Because we can’t verbally expression our compassion, love, sincerity, does that diminish its value? Does it take away that compassion, because we can’t speak it?

    In life, we all have good and bad days. Days when we feel well, and days when we don’t. I don’t see any difference at EOL. There are days when patients feel great, and when they don’t. They may not be able to classify objects, places, and names, but that doesn’t take away value by any means.

    Great post, and obviously, an issue I am very passionate about. I feel most at peace, when around a table of dementia patients.

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  2. My daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 22 months old so all diabetes is my and age related disease. This makes us furious when people associate illnesses with age or race or anything actually. My Oa had Alzheimer’s and I never once said I’d rather be shot! I do know people can be so I feeling we have experienced it first hand so I know what you are talking about! But I have more good things to say about our experience. We have been loved, helped, supported and nurtured by so many loving health care providers such as yourself. My daughter is now a nurse giving back! We believe in shutting those people down with our love kindness and offering that warm smile and hug! Great pist😄😄😄

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  3. I know my mental capacities are of value to me… I watched over some years as my father lost his and now my mom too. Its very frightening to people to have a chronic disorder that is irreversible. I keep my mind active and I pray and meditate… there is no telling me that I have value that would be a comfort greater than the caring that a person may demonstrate though. So, this being true for me, I do my best to offer hope and compassion, genuine caring of others.
    You communicate that caring in your articles and it is greatly appreciated that you give of yourself in this way.
    Blessings
    ~ Eric

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