Dementia is typically an illness of old age; the longer you live, the greater your chances of developing dementia. In the UK, between the ages of 40 and 64, only one person in every fourteen hundred people has dementia. In those over the age of eighty it is one person in six. Women with dementia outnumber men with dementia by two to one.
To different degrees in its different stages dementia affects memory, thinking, understanding, judgement, the capacity to learn and the use of language. Every aspect of the lives of those who suffer from it, and the lives of those who care for them, can be touched by dementia. Drug treatments can sometimes slow down the progression of the condition for a time but there is currently no cure.
In the face of such an illness, what can we do? What do we have to offer?
We can share our time, our companionship, practical help and prayer with men who suffer from dementia or who find themselves caring for wives or parents who have dementia. If you don’t know someone who fits that description, ask around. It won’t take long to find someone; a man with dementia, deprived of role and memories, perhaps living alone or in a care home; a man caring for a wife or a parent, increasingly isolated and lonely as the burden of caring erodes his ability to sustain friendships and social activities.
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’…..
40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
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