Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia, John Dunlop MD, Crossway, 2017, 207 pages.
Dementia is a word that can strike fear in our hearts. Over 6 million Americans have dementia, and that number is only going to increase. One-third of seniors will die from this disease. In the face of these grim statistics, is there any hope? Is it possible to find the grace of God in the face of dementia?
Author, Dr. John Dunlop, believes this is possible. He is a practicing geriatrician with over 30 years experience. He has walked this path with both of his parents and his mother-in-law. And he is a brother-in-Christ who believes that God's grace is sufficient even for a disease such as this.
Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia covers medical information and practical advice such as:
- How do our brains normally work and what happens when they don't?
- What are the different types of dementia? How are they diagnosed? Can they be prevented and treated?
- What is the progression of the disease? What challenges do patients face and what changes will they undergo? How can we treat them with respect as people made in God's image?
- What is the emotional, physical, and spiritual toll on caregivers? What support can we give them? When is it time to consider a nursing home/memory care?
- How do we provide the best care and comfort at the end?
But in addition, this book addresses the spiritual side of the equation. There is a whole chapter devoted to how the church can help. The author gives suggestions for proactive teaching on suffering and honoring the image of God in all people, even when their bodies and minds fail them. I was especially encouraged that this trial can be a means of strengthening the faith of not only caregivers but for the patients themselves. This is an opportunity to grow in prayer as we grieve and make our requests known, but we can also grow in worship and thanksgiving for God's grace and provision. This gives the body of Christ avenues for demonstrating love through practical service. I also appreciated Dr. Dunlop's reminders from the Word of what awaits the Christian dementia patient when they have finished the race. They have hope for "the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting" where disease and death are no more and every tear is wiped away.
When I found out about this book, I was very eager to read it. My mother suffers from memory loss, and it is challenging to support my family from afar. There are decisions to be made and even more unknowns. Thus it seems overwhelming at times. The practical insight in Finding Grace has helped me better understand what my mom faces day to day, what to expect in the future, and considerations for her well-being and those ministering to her. It has reminded me again that God wasn't caught off guard by this diagnosis. He has a purpose, but He is not remote from this situation. The Lord loves her and is intimately involved in the concerns of my family. So I am thankful that Dr. Dunlop wrote this book for folks like me.
I highly recommend Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia for family members, friends, pastors, and for those who are diagnosed with this disease. It offers practical wisdom but also points us to the ultimate source of comfort - the God of all grace.
We are giving away a copy of Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia. Please enter your contact information below. The winner will be announced Tuesday, September 26. Thanks for entering!
(The giveaway has ended.)
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