There was a news story Monday on Channel 8, WFAA, about how to speak to the elderly – mentioning especially Alzheimer and dementia patients. Something along the line that often caregivers speak to them as they would to children. In a sing/song, higher pitched voice, with questions not related to the situation. The example was a nurse watching a patient attempt to enter a room not her own.
Instead of asking, “Mrs. Smith, are you having difficulty finding your room?” the nurse made a remark similar to “Now, just where are we going? Are we trying to go into the wrong room?”
As we grow old, we may appear to act more childish, but we’re not. We’re acting more elderly. We will not, as a child will, learn better. For many of us, that option is being removed a little at a time, day by day, month by month.
Instead of learning how to tie our shoes, we are losing the ability to eat. To watch an elegant lady reach for her spoon to eat a yeast roll is a quick, heart rending moment.
Please do not treat us as children who will grow and understand. Treat us instead with the respect due the aged, simply because we have lived our lives with dignity, and wish that we could remember that dignity even longer.
We will not know what we have lost. And most of the time it will cause us fear.
We will come to fear those we love and who love us. I remember going to visit my mother-in-law. After a short couple of months, we visited her, passing her in the common room without a sparkle of recognition on either side. Her hair had been cut for ease of care. Did she mind? We could not know. She was in a wheelchair. Could she walk? She never tried. She stared. What did she see?
Fear of the unknown – and we were the unknown – was in her eyes as the nurse encouraged her to remember her sons. This mother who had been separated from her sons for 35 years. This mother who never lost faith that someday she would see them again. Who was overjoyed when reunited. Who loved them and their families as if forever.
Her body remained for several months more. She never recalled the memories of the past. Never made new ones. Her sons know from family medical history that they may experience the same loss.
How will God see us? Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. (2 Timothy 2:19a KJV)
Even when I cannot remember Him, the Lord knows I am His. The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. (Psalms 24:1 KJV)
Know that I have believed the answer to the jailer’s question affirmatively: And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:30-31 KJV)
And, when I do not recognize you, know that the love of Christ remains with me and I know I shall remain with Him eternally.