Reaching the Unreachable

 One of the heartaches of living and caring for your client suffering from Alzheimer’s is the problem of meaningful communication.

“It’s so difficult to have a conversation with my dear one,” we frequently hear people say when describing their struggle to retain some semblance of a normal relationship. I can fully relate to this situation since my wife is a victim of this dreaded disease. The question arises, “Is there still a chance to maintain a mutually satisfying connection between caregiver and patient?” In my experience this can be done given a thorough understanding of the situation and utilizing knowledgeable sources of help, including that of our Lord Jesus, the Great Physician of body and soul.

The Problem

While each Alzheimer’s patient has his unique strengths and weaknesses, there are many commonalities. The stage of dementia involved is a factor which must be considered. With the disease’s progressive deterioration of your loved one’s mental faculties the loss of communication, in normal terms, grows more acute. The diminishing capacity to understand what you are saying and the corresponding inability to respond verbally in a meaningful way greatly complicate effective “connecting with” your client.

A Solution

In seeking to achieve a mutually effective “give and take” with your client you must also consider the problems of attention span and level of comprehension. Spending quality time with him/her and carefully observing her reactions will greatly help you adjust your conversation accordingly.

“Keep it simple” is a good rule to follow. This does not mean, however, that you cannot penetrate these significant barriers to good communication with some encouraging expressions of your love and concern.

With God all things are possible. Or as St Paul tells us, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). The point here is that taking hold of your loved one’s hand, speaking slowly in simple terms and sharing appropriate portions of God’s Word will enable you to communicate with your client. The Holy Spirit works through the Word with our Lord’s power penetrating all barriers!

Years ago the Lord revealed this to me in a most dramatic way while I was making hospital visitations. I was calling upon an elderly gentleman with whom I had visited the previous week and had a mutually satisfying devotion.

Conclusion If we prayerfully enlist the help of our Lord in spending time with our clients afflicted with Alzheimer’s or other dementia type illnesses we can make these occasions ones for rejoicing and not emotionally wrenching experiences. In fact, we too shall be comforted by our Savior’s Word as we share it with a loving spouse or parent. Tears may fill our eyes, but they will be tears of joy knowing that we are “reaching the unreachable”!

 Author: Unknown