The month of January is “Sanctity of Human Life” month. Jan. 13, 1984 President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation designating Jan. 22 as the first National Sanctity of Human Life Day. Churches around our country continue to recognize the third Sunday in Jan. as “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday”. A person’s life should be valued, respected and treated ethically. This past Sunday at my church we honored life by pondering on Psalms 139:14, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” We also pondered on Isaiah 44:24, “…your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb.” Yes, I think we would all agree life is to be valued and protected. In 1994 President Reagan also stood before a nation and proclaimed he had Alzheimer’s disease.
Over the years I have crossed paths with many caregivers. I recall one caregiver that attended our monthly support group meetings. She and her husband would attend these support group meetings regularly. This caregiver shared at one of our meetings that her and her husband had gone to a neurologist in Raleigh. She further went on to say they received the diagnosis, her husband has Alzheimer’s disease. When they got home after the doctor’s visit, she proceeded to tell her husband and he started calling everyone he knew and shared his news. This was upsetting to her and she called their son with her concerns. He told her, “Mother, if the president of the United States can tell a nation that he has Alzheimer’s disease, it is ok for Daddy to share his news.”
Another caregiver would come to our meetings with her husband. She always would say how blessed she was. Her husband was so kind and sweet. He was not difficult at all; it was like he was a sweet tender child. Many times at our meetings her husband would reach over and pat his wife’s shoulder and say, “This is my wife, I love her.” It never disrupted our meeting because she had told us this was something he did and would do often.
Another caregiver once shared how good her husband had always been to her. He never spoke a harsh word to her and would never raise a hand against her. As the disease progressed he became violent and he would speak harsh to her. She attended one of our support group meetings and soon realized it was not her husband but the disease that hit her and spoke harshly. This caregiver eventually had to place her husband in a facility.
Though each situation is different in the life of Alzheimer’s disease, each life should be valued and respected – the life of the caregiver and the life of the one living with Alzheimer’s disease. All life from the beginning until the end should be valued with the great respect. Hope you have a “Best Day Ever”.
Lesia Henderson is a Positive Approach to Care Independent Trainer and Sampson County Department of Aging Family Caregiver Support Specialist.