Tag: Christ Jesus

Spiritual Health in the Face of Dementia

Rich Evans, former Committee on Publication for Arizona

Have you ever ridden into a box canyon? It is difficult to see the way out and the walls threaten to cut one off from all that is normal.

Caring for a loved one challenged with dementia can feel like that. It is wearing. For those who cannot afford help it can be exhausting and frightening. All who provide care in these circumstances, paid or unpaid, need aid themselves.

Dementia is not a specific disease, according to Mayo Clinic. Rather, it “describes a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily functioning”. The caregivers in such a situation become the providers of necessary daily functioning for those who seem unable.

The Mayo Clinic Staff continues with advice to caregivers in such circumstances: “Providing for a person with dementia is physically and emotionally demanding. Often the primary caregiver is a spouse or other family member. Feelings of anger and guilt, frustration and discouragement, worry, grief, and social isolation are common. If you’re a caregiver for someone with dementia: 1) Ask friends or other family members for help when you need it; 2) Take care of your physical, emotional and spiritual health”.

Perhaps focusing on this last point, spiritual health, would help in great measure to meet the physical and emotional needs of anyone caring for those exhibiting dementia. But how does one achieve “spiritual health”?

For me, it includes addressing fears by gaining a sense of God’s infinite love for us.

Unaddressed, fear can block our recognition of needed answers in giving care, it can overwhelm us in apprehension for our own safety, and plummet one into a sense of depression.

But when fear is spiritually overcome the practical impact can be liberating. The perfect example of this was when Christ Jesus, whose fearlessness consistently brought healing, encountered a tragically insane Gadarene man called Legion. Despite this man’s miscreant reputation, self-destructive tendencies, and social isolation, Jesus spoke with him normally and showed his Christly love for one who’d probably never received such restorative attention. That fearless care not only calmed him but cured him permanently.

Could this be possible today? Yes. Even the Mayo report allows, “Some causes of dementia may be reversible”. So, why shouldn’t a caregiver, expressing sufficient spiritual love, not only overcome his or her own fear but extend this sense of God’s love to the one being cared for such that the condition may abate? Over many years in the periodicals of my church there are accounts of various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, being reversed through a spiritual understanding of God’s healing love.

Many in the business of extending care to humanity have found strength in a more divine motivation for doing their work. I find this statement from a seminal writing on the relationship between spirituality and health encouraging: “It is proverbial that Florence Nightingale and other philanthropists engaged in humane labors have been able to undergo without sinking fatigues and exposures which ordinary people could not endure. The explanation lies in the support which they derived from the divine law, rising above the human. The spiritual demand, quelling the material, supplies energy and endurance surpassing all other aids, and forestalls the penalty which our beliefs would attach to our best deeds.” (S cience and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. 385)

Filled with love for God and mankind, divine inspiration can lead us out of the box canyon of apprehension, lifting our thoughts above the shadowy dimensions of caregiving, and brightening the way of those in our charge.

This article was published in the Arizona Silver Belt Newspaper, August 5, 2015.

Health: Dependence or Independence?*

Rich Evans, former Committee on Publication for Arizona

Dependence is certainly not what a toddler wants after learning to walk, or a teen after getting a driver’s license. They don’t seek to return to dependence on that which they have outgrown. They are overjoyed at the progress they have made in taking charge of their life and asserting their independence.

But is regression from independence a risk in regard to our health? Are there aspects of typical, modern health care that foster dependence? Can our attitude and thoughtfulness help avoid this dependence.

A young adult friend was in a serious automobile accident and consequently immobilized because of broken bones. A skilled and attentive surgeon set the bones and prescribed rest and low level activity that would aid recovery. Medications were included to control pain and address other precautions. This was normal protocol. The young adult adhered to the regimen initially, but unwelcome side effects accompanied procedures, and he wanted to diminish or cease the usage of the medications. He respected medical opinion, but he did not hesitate rethinking the nature, duration and intensity of these prescriptions as an independent thinker.

Expecting healing, rather than perpetuation of chemical assistance, helped him diminish the dosages until half way through the expected program there was no need for pain medication because there was no pain. Why? Because, in part, this young man was not perpetuating the thought of the accident. He held no ill will toward the drunk driver who T-boned him. He felt and showed much gratitude toward the emergency room personnel, asking on departure to go back to thank one of the nurses for the special care he had received when he was first brought in. He turned the physical challenges into a lesson of patience. In short, he had refused to depend upon the stereotypical victim conduct of anger, pity, or self-absorption. The result was a quicker recovery, both emotionally and physically, and freedom from continuing chemical dependence.

Good outcomes from maintaining an independent and open thought on the path to health have been evident for centuries. One finds Biblical precedent in the woman who, having spent her wealth on seeking medical help for her chronic bleeding without relief, reached out to the spiritual representative of health at that time, Christ Jesus, and was healed through reclaiming her own spiritual independence from the matter-based norm that had not helped her.

Like this woman and the young man mentioned above, we can be grateful for the caring received from skilled and well-motivated professionals without slipping into dependence. We can search out the spiritual qualities like graciousness, gratitude, humility and forgiveness, which bring confidence in the inevitability of good health and strengthen one’s conscious independence toward life-affirming decisions.

*Published December 10, 2014 in  the Arizona Silver Belt newspaper in Globe, Arizona.

Embrace of Mankind Brings Mental Wellness***

 Rich Evans, former Committee on Publication for Arizona

As a child, I dropped a glass milk bottle on my bare toe.  I could easily have slipped into panic or fear, but I didn’t.  My family was at the lunch table and my father jumped up, put one hand on the smashed toe and the other on my shoulder.  The love expressed in the room stopped the fear that might have ensued.  My thought calmed and the pain ceased.  The day went on normally.

The presence of love at that moment definitely affected my mental wellness, to say nothing of my physical condition.  It is worth considering how such loving acts counter physical and mental disturbance and restore mental wellness of those around us, both within our view and outside of it.

January is Mental Wellness Month, which suggests we might reflect on what we can do to aid others who may feel that circumstances have “dropped a bottle on their bare toe”.  They, like all of us, can benefit from an embrace of compassion, if not directly, then figuratively.  We know when we have the support of family, even if we are far from home.  That sort of love is felt and it gives us peace of mind, solid comfort.

There are many dedicated professionals and volunteers working to bring comfort and health of thought to others who are not in the embrace of their formal families.   I was speaking to the head social worker at a state home for adults, who need support due to mental challenges.  I was encouraged to learn that there are measures taken to place a “hand over the toe”, if you will, and to provide an atmosphere of loving support for the patients living there.

The professional staff, indeed, are like family in many ways.  They play music, sing together, maintain a self-advocacy group for those ready for fuller communication, and develop skills that enable each individual to reach her or his capacity to integrate as much as possible into the community.

This compassionate work is augmented by a volunteer program, where members of the community may serve as surrogate family for individuals.  This furthers social integration and creates a sense of normalcy, aiding in mental awareness and self worth for the individual needing that.  This activity can lead to mutual mental wellness, for the volunteer as well as for the client in the home.  Unselfish acts lead to healthier thoughts.

We have seen these unselfish actions and their good outcomes throughout history.  Certainly it was evidenced in Scripture, as Christ Jesus gave two commands, to love God and to love mankind.*  His love for others was often repeated in healing, in feeding multitudes, and in befriending the less advantaged.  We can do the same and find mental wellness for ourselves by aiding in the mental wellness of others…”blessed is that man who seeth his brother’s need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another’s good”**.

*The Bible, Matt. 22:37-40

**Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 518, Mary Baker Eddy

***[This article was published January 29, 2014 in the Arizona Silver Belt newspaper, print edition.]