What I’ll Say to my Children if I’m Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s

I was skimming some other dementia blogs lately and a reader had written in saying, that though she felt guilty about it, she wished her mother would die in her sleep and not have to continue living through the pain and indignity of dementia.  I’ve heard others say things like, “I’ve told my kids if I ever get Alzheimer’s just shoot me.”

I understand where these comments are coming from, but they make my heart heavy.  I feel like these attitudes devalue my Mom’s life right now. Even though they are not specifically referencing her, they are in effect saying that people like her are better off dead. It is hard to see Mom changing and confused and upset. But she still has sweet times of love and joy, too.  And God still has a purpose for her life.

He is growing our patience as we care for her.  He is developing our tenderness and mercy.  God is giving us opportunities to show love to a dear mom who loved us all so well when she was able and strong. He’s sending us smiles and laughter with Mom’s quirky ways and funny words.  He’s challenging us to love faithfully when she is angry and difficult.

People with dementia are still people.  And God still has a plan for their lives. Even when they are bedridden and can do nothing at all, maybe their very life keeps us clinging to God more. Maybe their very existence draws us closer to God as we seek Him and cry out to Him.

I fear having AD someday myself. (My mind already concerns me too often.)  But if that day comes I’m not going to tell my kids, even jokingly, to just shoot me.  What I would say to them is this…. Pray and trust God to guide you.  Get as much help as you can.  I don’t want you to sacrifice your life plans or family for my sake, but I want to always be part of your life.

If you need to find a nursing home for me, I understand.  Pray about it and seek wisely. And then visit me often. Even if I don’t seem to know you, believe in your heart that part of me does.  Hold my hand and talk to me.  Tell me all about your life.  Sing to me and read the Bible to me, please.  Brush my hair and tell me memories of your childhood.

If I’m still able to chew be sure to bring chocolate.  (You know your mom.) And hopefully I’ll have some adorable grandchildren to marvel over.

And don’t forget to take some time to just sit quietly next to me. Hold my wrinkled hand and let God whisper to your soul.  I’m so sorry you have to go through this painful journey with me, but God will give you strength and grow you through it all.  Hold fast unto Him. Sink deep into His love.

Everything will be better in heaven.  Meanwhile, when I can’t talk anymore; just know that I love you forever and that being a mom to you was an honor and the delight of my life.

That’s what I’d say to my children. Oh, and I might throw in a “Be nice to your brother” for old-time’s sake.

1,032 thoughts on “What I’ll Say to my Children if I’m Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s

  1. Joye Pautz says:

    I have needed this for quite a while. Thank you for putting the words down that my heart could not find to explain how it is with a mom with dementia. I will pray and look for more ways to appreciate the journey that is laden with anger, guilt and frustration.

    • chermor2 says:

      I know it’s a hard journey, Joye. And as caregivers we experience so many emotions!! I pray that God will give you grace and strength even through the challenges of it all. ~Cheryl

  2. Barbara Scoggins says:

    Been on this journey with my precious Mom!! God’s grace is sufficient!!! She is in Heaven now, died in my arms in my bedroom. So thankful to be able to take care of her!! I was her baby girl and she took care of me!! What a privilege to take care of her as she became my baby girl…

  3. Charlotte T. says:

    Thank you for this very touching post. My own mother had arterial dementia, and I did many of the things for her that you ask your children do for you–sang to her, told her about my life, reminisced about my childhood, etc., even though she had not been able to speak for some time. It just seemed right at the time. I guess it was!

  4. I went thru this first with my mom she had Alzheimer’s 4 years ago then last year with my dad. he had dementia. They both had there good days and bad. But the day before dad die he ha a great day he was smiling and he took my hand and just held i and staired at me. i look back now and I feel it was his way of saying it was ok I’m ready to be with your momma. i will always remember that quarkey smile he gave me that day

  5. Yvonne says:

    My father had Advanced Dementia….. He would call all of us “ hay Kid” because we knew he forgot our name bt did remember our faces…… always happy to see us….. you could tell when he was having a bad day ….. looked scared and confused…. and his good days in his laugh……… his nights were always the worse …… misss you dad!

  6. Sharon Holton says:

    My mother in law died with it, my mom has it now and my brother in law that is just 60 has it very bad. I am so sick of the word and scared too that I might be next.

  7. Karen says:

    Well expressed as it brought fresh tears; lost Mom 3 months ago from what I call an insidious disease. I do agree that God uses the whole range of emotions to grow us and teach us. I will never forget the funny things Mom said but particularly the tender, private exchanges as well. Thank you for such insight to very difficult times.

  8. Mary B.Johnson says:

    Caring for my husband who has AD is difficult. When I can see he is still trying to express his love and appreciation (in the ways he understands now) makes it easier to cope.
    Thank you for your missive. It is thought provoking and leaves an appreciative understanding of your heart’s yearnings. Great advise.

  9. Bertina Bush says:

    I have been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers. I am 68 and have a wonderful husband and family. They love me, understand me, and help me through the rough times. I can get frustrated at times because I cannot remember as well as I have in the past. I try my best to keep active. I sing in our Church choir; read books, fellowship with church friends, and try to keep active. My husband helps me out in so many ways. I try to be as active as possible. I know that some day this ‘disease’ may get worse, but God has been so good to me by giving me a wonderful family and Church family. I am truly blessed.

    • chermor2 says:

      I’m sorry for your diagnosis, Bertina, but I love your attitude and your determination to keep active and in fellowship. Your life is and will be a testimony to God’s grace. May He continually to bless you and your family! ~Cheryl

  10. Dicque New says:

    Thank you so much for this post. My mother also had Alzheimer’s. It was a difficult and heartbreaking time, but she found joy in having me with her. I too worry that I may follow that same path and these words are wonderful. As a mom we all want to spare our children the heartbreak of the changes Alzheimer’s brings, but to tell your children these words while you still can will be a great blessing. God bless you!

  11. raplano says:

    When we don’t have enough money to treat every sick child because 80% of our lifetime medical expenses are accrued in the last year of life, we have our priorities upside down. Will I ask for death? No. But will I allow someone to spend $15k (or more) every month to sustain me? No!

  12. Peggy Strevel says:

    Thank you for sharing…needed this badly.

  13. Shirley says:

    Unfortunately I have had both parents go through this. It really shakes your beliefs. Sad to say I no longer pray. I found the only way to help someone is to do it yourself and not leave to a higher being! Teach yourself to be patient, loving,forgiving.

  14. Cay Van De/Voort says:

    I took care of my Daddy for the last 10 years of his life. The last 5, he had Alzheimer’s. I took care of him out of my love for him, some god had nothing whatsoever to do with it. If you love someone, you take care of them, whatever it takes, just as I care for my 50 year old special baby girl!

  15. Mark says:

    I’m not sure how to start. Thank you for your beautiful words. My children and I are making this journey with my wife of 39 years. Patti will be 60 in June. She’s a beautiful woman and a great mother. Her life has and continues to have purpose. She has taught much prior to her Alzheimer’s and is teaching as she faces this demeaning disease. She loves the Lord is graceful and has a smile you can’t forget. Her children, my children carry their mom in their hearts. Her family, my family, our friends are on this walk with us. Patti’s life has purpose! God didn’t make any mistakes. He has us by our hand. Reach out, grab hold.

    I needed this tonight.


    • chermor2 says:

      Patti sounds like a beautiful person, Mark. I’m thankful to hear she has you, a loving family, and especially the Lord to help her on this journey. May He continue to give you grace and strength. He is faithful! ~Cheryl

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