Dementia can mean many things, but mainly refers to loss of memory. Do you ever think about the fact that you never hear kids in their twenties complaining about their memory? The reason is easy- their’s works! But get around a group of people in their later decades, and you’ll find a non-stop bemoaning of memory loss, or at least memory weakening. The difference between the two groups is that as long as this gift is working, we take it for granted. Once it ceases to work perfectly, we immediately begin to pay the price.
Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you said Wednesday…
And most of all, where are the car keys?
Memory is an awesome gift that enables us to function day by day with minimum tension and fewer mistakes.
Let’s try to remember to thank God for it, and pray for those suffering from memory loss as well as all those who care for them!
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The Church is old! It will soon have clocked twenty centuries of history. Throughout all of that period, it has been led by the Bishop of Rome. During those nearly twenty centuries, 266 men have sat in the chair of St. Peter. The story of the papacy is closely intertwined with the story of the Universal Church and quite a story it is. Throughout this unfolding story, the papacy has been, for the most part, a constant source of strength and unity. With the passage of centuries, the papacy has gathered to itself more and more administrative responsibility for the Universal Church. The pope today is concerned about what is going on in Quito, Ecuador and suburban Tokyo and everything in-between. With assistance, he is in direct contact with the Church across the world. If he were suddenly to be incapacitated, things would really become difficult!
Throughout most of the papal story, men who became seriously ill usually died but in today’s world with the advanced technology that we have it is a fact that people can be kept alive long past the time when they can function in a meaningful way. Suppose the pope has a stroke or moves into advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. With the pope unable to function and no system for replacing him, chaos could result. Father James Provost, a prominent professor at the Catholic University of America, pointed this out in his writings back in 2000. The issue has not been dealt with. There are absolutely no provisions of replacing a pope or transferring his authority should he become incapacitated for an extended period of time. This is a serious vacuum in the Church’s constitutional law and perhaps Pope Benedict XVI, who is himself 82, should consider making some canonical provision to deal with the situation.
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“I think you have Alzheimers.”
These words from a physician strike fear and pain into the minds and hearts of those diagnosed, as well as who hear it when they realize they will be the caregiver. The other day I mentioned what a great gift memory is, and how we only appreciate it when we begin to lose it. Losing memory is the essence of Alzheimer’s , but it carries with it other painful effects as well, not the least of which is a powerful and frequently destructive feeling of anger. I’m no physician, but I’ve dealt with a lot of Alzheimer situations, and I’ve always felt that the patient was imprisoned, knew that he was imprisioned, and was furious about that reality. Regardless of the cause, the Alzheimer patient frequently takes out this anger on the caregiver.
Do you know a caregiver for a victim of dementia? Pray for both of them today.
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