Jeremy K. Van Deman
To the editor:
The Daily Journal does a great job of presenting local news and world issues in a way relevant to Johnson County readers, making it a good resource for me to use in my work with persons of older generations in Franklin.
Sadly, “bad” news increasingly outweighs good news, reflecting our morally ailing society. My residents (in a local retirement community) grew up facing enemies in other countries; today’s headlines report that the enemy is among us. More frightening for many, however, is another grave concern: Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
During atrocious wars such as the world wars, our soldiers traveled overseas to confront the enemy. Now the enemy does not fight on level battlefields, but by melting the hearts of civilians: terrorism in recent years has redefined “war.”
With dementia, however, we can hardly identify an enemy at all. How does one fight such a devastating enigma? With hope. As I read the world’s troubling news, I want to respond, to fight back. Let’s do nothing less when it comes to dementia. So what can we do? We can face all these terrors with hope:
After all, dementia is not the greatest thing or power that exists.
The real enemy is spiritual, and must submit to the greatest power in existence: God.
According to the Bible, the Son of God, Jesus, suffered and died for all of our sins and infirmities, including dementia.
Jesus rose from the grave, conquering the Enemy, dementia and all evil.
Jesus offers us abundant life; research shows that dementia is probably caused mostly by our poor lifestyle choices.
Dementia can be healed, or used by the living God to work all things for the good of those who love him.
God hates dementia but uses it to reveal his grace to those affected by the disease, especially to the family and friends of its victims.
Therefore, we have hope. Two of my grandparents died with dementia, and I work daily with persons battling severe dementia (and with their families). I see its horror and its devastation. I also witness the grace of Jesus Christ at work in the midst of it. I see and boldly testify to the hope that we have.
According to my own research, you may be able to decrease your risk of dementia by sleeping well, avoiding cigarettes and sleeping pills, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise, lowering your stress levels, and by continually learning and sharpening your brain.
Avoiding dementia, however, does not protect you from other worldly woes: cancer, immorality in our society, school shootings, family strife, abuse, discrimination, lawsuits, unemployment, terrorism, disappearing Social Security or other forms of evil.
Dementia is not the enemy, but it is a good reminder that no matter how hard we try, we simply cannot always be in control. So what do we do about it?
Trust Jesus. If you have read the New Testament of the Bible recently, you know that Jesus is an expert at delivering from demons and healing from disease. You know that he calms storms and raises the dead. You know that he suffered worse than any of us ever will, and that he was made perfect through His sufferings.
You know that he is our Hope, the Light of the world. Invite Jesus to walk with you through the darkness and despair of dementia or any other horror, and you will experience a life worth living. As the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” says, we can know his “strength for today, bright hope for tomorrow.”