I remember finding a baby bird who had fallen out of its nest. My friend and I, both of us all of 8 or 9 years-old, tried to care for the little thing, and eventually climbed the tree and got it returned it to its nest. I remember also being heartbroken when I was told that the mother bird wouldn’t care for it anymore because we had handled her chick. Decades later I would be relieved to know that this was just a myth. This memory and countless others are foundational to me. I’m terrified by the idea that one day, I might not be able to recall it. However, the reality is that so many people suffer from illnesses that may prevent them from recalling their most precious memories.
The Alzheimer’s Care Association says that today, 1 in 6 people is afflicted with a memory loss condition. Often this condition, or complications from it, can lead to death. There is nothing pleasant about discussing it. Just as none of us want to discuss cancer or heart disease, dementia is a Spector that we would rather not have to address until it becomes something we can’t ignore. So why do I think we need to talk about it?
"Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken."
- Psalms 55:22 NIV
Whether you are suffering from a memory loss condition right now, or you are afraid you may in the future, or like so many you have a loved one which requires your care and attention that is suffering from dementia; you need support. It can hurt so much to forget or be forgotten, and that hurt can lead to shame. However, according to Vic Mazmanian, a memory care expert that recently visited our parish, the only form of care available, is being in a group of people who are sharing your experience. To do that we have to be willing to open our hearts to one another and embrace the comfort that is offered by St. Paul when he says, "Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2).
You can hear the full interview with Vic Mazmanian on our website, and links are available in our weekly e-newsletter. If you are interested in being a part of a memory care support group, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.