What If I Get Dementia?
I am now in my senior years. As my age progresses, my body is progressively ageing, too.
When I look at my current physique, I can only bask in the glory of past days when I used to play rugby in school and do 50 sit-ups—easily—within a minute during National Service. I could also do many other things that made me feel that I was close to being immortal! Never did I think about what would it be like when I grew old. Now I know.
It is no wonder that the Apostle Paul wrote about how our body is like a tent. Like anything material, it will go through seasons of wear and tear. But we have the assurance that when this body (our “earthly tent”) is destroyed, we have a building from God—a house not made by human hands that is eternal in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1). For now we groan, longing to put on this heavenly dwelling.
But sometimes, we are not just battling with the challenges of a body that is degenerating. I was struck by a recent news feature on Mr Steven Lau, a successful stockbroker who discovered he had dementia at the age of 58. It was a painful discovery for him and his family. According to the article, 1 in 10 people who are above 60 years old has dementia.
Now that really got my attention, as I am in that age group.
Much has been written about the challenges of caring for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. But I wonder: What could I possibly do if this dreaded condition hits me?
I once watched a documentary on a favourite singer of mine, Glen Campbell. Even though he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the disease did not cause him to lose his guitar playing skills, although it affected his ability to remember the lyrics of his songs. He even continued performing in several concerts while battling the disease, much to people’s amazement.
A report from the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center noted that different regions of the brain are affected differently by the disease. Its director, Dr Ronald Peterson, said: “Maybe we shouldn’t dwell on what we cannot do because of the disease but focus on what we still can do.”
It is challenging to think that some of us will have dementia or Alzheimer’s one day. But we can focus on what we can still do. I am glad that I can still read and understand the precious truths of God’s Word, sing songs of praises about God and to Him, serve Him and others in the Christian community, and enjoy the relationships I have with my loved ones.
The author of Ecclesiastes reminds us to remember our Creator in the days of our youth “before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them’ ” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
There may come the day when I am no longer able to read, listen, see, or eat properly, or even move around because of weakened limbs. But before my mind begins to close its doors and the sun sets on me, may I have the strength to remember that God is good, all the time. —C.H. Tan
Father, thank You that I am able
to read Your Word, praise You, and pray to You.
May I continue to do this while I am able to,
that I may never miss a day
of Your goodness in my remaining years.
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