January 23, 2017

Alzheimer’s, Forgetting the Elderly

In the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, there is an ancient allegory about aging:

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“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them’ – before the sun and the light and the moon the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking though the windows grow dim; when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades when men rise at the sound of birds, but all their songs go faint… then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about in the streets.  Remember him – before the silver cord is severed… and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”  Ecclesiastes 12:1-7

It takes a couple of times reading through this for the allegory of aging to really come alive. Notice the picturesque descriptions of:

  • Hearing loss
  • Loss of vision
  • Fewer teeth
  • Physical weakness
  • Not being as mobile as in earlier years

The allegory describes an aging body and the painful process when the mind and senses fade.

Time is a key theme in Ecclesiastes and the one thing medicine cannot cure. Science cannot tame or stop the biological clock. For centuries, people have sought the fountain of youth, but it most certainly does not exist.

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A “sound mind” is clear of fear. There is no benefit in fearing whatever we dread. Face it. Surrender. Trust God for help to overcome.  Peace of mind is worth it.

Yet, God is the beginning and the end and is present at both times and each moment in between. Typically, the mind is the last to go, but Alzheimer’s is increasingly rearing its ugly head.  2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that “a sound mind” is a gift from God. Yet, there is more at work here —far more. Every dimension of human life is inter-related: physical and emotional, emotional and mental, mental and spiritual. With regard to mental and spiritual dimensions, it is impossible to precisely discern where the one stops and the other starts.

Since ancient days, those who bear the image of God (human beings) have been the targets of the enemies of God. The first thing we learn about the devil in the Bible is not that he’s powerful; it’s that he’s crafty: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made…” He threw up a cloud of confusion at Adam and Eve spiritually: “Did God really say…?”  (Genesis 3:1) He’s been doing it ever since.  It’s not true that all mental problems are demonic in nature. However, some mental problems are demonic in nature, springing up from spiritual and emotional root causes.

In the case of Alzheimer’s, Dr. Henry Wright in his book “A More Excellent Way,” writes about Alzheimer’s as a result of white corpuscles congregating at critical nerve junctions of the brain:

“Whenever I find white corpuscles attacking the body and not doing what God created them to do, I have, without exception, found various degrees of self-hatred and guilt.”

Because root causes are emotional and spiritual in nature, cures for this and other ailments are not to be found in a bottle. Science and profitable pharmaceutical companies are quick to look for and generate miracle drugs, placing false hope in things like gene therapy. We live in a culture that lies to people about who they are; youth are celebrated, the elderly are stripped of their value and purpose in society.  More and more people are aging here in a society that says they have no value any more. When people reach a stage of being unproductive and a greater cost to society, the result is a loss of self-worth, self-hatred and guilt from being a burden.

The fact that there is a greater incidence of Alzheimer’s today reveals there are causes today that were not experienced in earlier generations. We could quickly make a case for eating healthy brain foods like fish, because they are high in selenium. People with selenium deficiencies tend to suffer greater mental problems and be more susceptible to depression and dementia. We know there are other foods and vitamins that improve memory function:

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