My name is Bev Lindemann. I was born and raised in Eastford, CT. Here’s my story of how Alzheimer’s invaded the brains of three people very dear to me. It’s also a story of how only with a strong faith and trust in my Lord Jesus Christ, could I have gotten through the last 35 years.
The Lord has been preparing me with experiences throughout my life to equip me for the role of caregiver. Here’s a bit of my ‘back story.’
I had the privilege, as a teen and young adult to watch my dad and uncle help my Grandma care for my bed-ridden Grandpa at home for nine years. Great role models!
In 1981 when my Grandma’s housekeeper retired, my husband suggested we pray about moving in with our two young children to care for Grandma who had developed dementia. We both felt the Lord calling us to move in with Grandma. This time continued adding to the layers of experience which even today I still draw from. Grandma would read to our 2 yr. old son, Torrey, regularly. Often I would hear Torrey saying “Big Grandma, you already read that page!” and so the debate would begin, with me getting experience in inter-generational conflict resolution!
My parents were both diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in late 2003. It’s a love story. Dad took the test so Mom would take it. We realized that Mom had something going on but not Dad. I retired from teaching in the summer of 2004 to start the journey of full time care giving. I had no idea the road we were headed down but my faith in the Lord has been my Rock through out this journey.
As our next chapter, with my parents began, I thought of a verse from Esther 4:14b “And who knows but that you have come to royal position (caregiver) For such a time as this?”
When I was told in Dec. 2003, that both Mom and Dad were in various stages of Alzheimer’s, it was a lot to absorb. There is definitely a blessing in not knowing the details of what the future holds. In Jeremiah 29:11-12 the Scripture says – “11-For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12- Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”
I firmly believe that the Lord has a plan for us, better then we could ever imagine. A key component to each day for me is in verse 12 - to call upon the Lord, go to Him and pray to Him. There’s nothing He can’t bear to hear! When I would try to hold things too tightly and ‘be in control’, that’s when I would have to remember that God’s plan for Mom and Dad was better than Bev’s plan.
2004/05 were extremely challenging years for our family. My folks got Meals on Wheels in the fall; moved to The Village at Buckland Court Assisted Living in South Windsor in late January; moved to the ‘Memory unit’ in March; Mom stopped eating in April and was hospitalized in Putnam, which ultimately resulted in her being moved to a skilled nursing facility in Putnam (with Dad remaining in So. Windsor); our daughter got married in early May; Dad and Mom were each moved to other rooms within their facilities that summer. Having that many changes in a short period of time is hard for anyone. Having that many changes, when you have Alzheimer’s, can be overwhelming. It wasn’t without challenges. One of my dad’s doctors told him that he should trust his children because we were the product of he and Mom’s time and influence. I’ve reflected on the doctor’s statement a lot.
My parents’ deep faith in the Lord helped them through those very difficult times. When Mom was semi-comatose in the hospital, we would sing hymns to her and she would still sing out strongly “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty…” While hospitalized in April 2005, Dr. Botta, my parents PCP, diagnosed Mom with Lewy Body (a disease within the dementia “family”) Lewy Body had a profound effect on Mom’s personality. She had always been a very pleasant, contented woman and the Lewy Body caused her to be frightful and have hallucinations. Thankfully, Mom didn’t suffer too long with this and passed away Jan. 2006. Through this time apart, my parents saw each other 3 times a week. Dad and I spent many hours singing in the car!
Dad continued as a resident of the Memory Unit at The Village at Buckland Court for 6 more years. We made sure he made it out the Eastford, to church most Sundays. Being with his church family was very important to Dad. Up until 2010 he would still end each day by reading his Bible and study guide, singing a song, and having a time of prayer.
In Aug. 2012, Dad moved to Westview in Dayville, CT, a skilled nursing facility. My dad has shown me how his deep faith in the Lord carried him through his last days. He was known as “Judge” due to his 33 years as Probate Judge in Eastford. He would roll around Westview and smile at everyone he met. His friend “Bob” (another resident) would have a tough time in the late afternoon (sun-downing) and Dad would roll over to “Bob” in his wheelchair. Dad would lovingly put his hand on “Bob’s” arm and help to settle him down. Dad’s love of the Lord shone through the fog of Alzheimer’s even to the last days of his life. Dad passed away in Jan. 2014. His last word to me was “Hallelujah!”
So why do I facilitate a support group (ACOALO) once a month? Why do I listen and work with co-workers who are dealing with Alzheimer’s in their families? I feel that I have a responsibility to use my experiences to help guide others through a very challenging time. Why have I walked since 2005 to Help End Alzheimer’s? During the last 5 years our Quiet Corner Crusaders has raised over $12,000 to help fund research and find a cure for Alzheimer’s. I have seen first hand, 3 times over, what this insidious disease Alzheimer’s, does to people I have loved dearly. It’s stolen their memories, personalities, and their health. I live with the constant cloud of if or when will I get Alzheimer’s?? I have a ‘vested interest’ in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. If not for me, at least for my children and grandchildren!!
Yet through all the years I’ve been travelling this journey with Grandma, Mom and Dad, I have and continue to cling to ultimate hope and future of believers mentioned in Jeremiah is discussed more in Revelation 21:3-4,
“3 -And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,”Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God, Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 -He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
This is the hope and the promise my grandmother and parents looked forward to and are now experiencing. This is also the hope and promise that gets me through each day. I can see now, how the Lord has used my past experiences to equip me for the challenges I have faced so far. I’m not sure how the Lord will use these experiences for the future, but I know He will. It’s a privilege to be involved with the Alzheimer’s Association in various ways. We WILL find a cure for Alzheimer’s and in the meantime I will continue to do what I can, locally and in CT.