In a recent Facebook post, I mentioned that my mother is slipping into Stage 5 of Alzheimer’s. Some of my followers asked me, “What are the stages and how do they manifest in our loved ones?”
So I’ve decided to answer that question with a series of blog posts about the 7 Stages. Each week, we’ll look at the next consecutive stage – but not totally from a scientific point of view.
My journey into the world of Alzheimer’s has included my mother’s disease but also the viewpoint of a special lady – Reverend G.
These posts will include Reverend G’s personal experiences and her thoughts through each consecutive stage.
Also, each post will end with a Bible verse that Reverend G hangs on to during that stage. She is, after all, an ordained minister and her faith is important to her – no matter what is happening to her brain.
As we move closer to the book launch for the third book in the series, “Final Grace for Reverend G,” I’ll also include some videos to help my followers understand each stage of the journey.
So to introduce the series, here are the 7 Stages of Alzheimer’s – as Reverend G experiences them – with a bit of scientific information from my research. I hope you’ll join me on this series of posts and share them with your friends.
Stage 1: Preparation. No cognitive decline is present, but a sense that Reverend G doesn’t feel exactly well and wonders what is going to happen. She believes God is preparing her for something in the near future. Isaiah 43: 2-3.
Stage 2: Questions. A small amount of forgetfulness is present, but nothing that impairs life. One example is when Reverend G forgets a line from “The Lord’s Prayer.” This is the stage where “The Unraveling of Reverend G” begins. Isaiah 48:2.
Stage 3: Fear. Something is definitely wrong and life is beginning to seem more difficult. Early confusion sets in. Reverend G loses an entire carton of Chunky Monkey ice cream. Fear is a constant companion. Psalm 34:4.
Stage 4: Diagnosis. Reality confirms the diagnosis as more and more confusion affects Reverend G. Handling finances becomes more difficult and while short-term memory begins to fog, long-term memory is still coherent.
This is the stage where most families begin to consider assisted living arrangements. Reverend G begins to accept what is happening to her. Psalm 43:5.
Stage 5: Early Dementia. Reverend G no longer cares about time or the days of the week. She has difficulty counting backwards although she still knows the names of her loved ones. She still enjoys eating cheesecake with blueberries but she may have some trouble tying her shoelaces or making decisions about what to wear.
She may have dreams that seem real, although they just confuse her further. Her comment appears often, “Oh God, oh God – I can’t stand it.” Reverend G lives through Stages 4 and 5 in “Intermission for Reverend G.” Hebrews 13:5b.
Stage 6: Back to Childhood. Severe cognitive decline as Reverend G is now entirely dependent for her survival. She experiences expressive aphasia as speech become more difficult.
Her beloved Chris is with her and her family remains a source of comfort, but she has forgotten major events and the seasons of the year mean nothing to her. Time has virtually disappeared.
She does know her own name, but others will have to help her with daily living. At this point, she is relying on God to keep her faith strong, because she has no cognitive ability to comprehend what the Bible says, even though she may be able to recite some passages or find comfort in music.
“Final Grace for Reverend G” begins at the end of Stage 5 and continues through Stage 7. Psalm 56:3-4.
Stage 7: The Race is Won. In this final stage, Alzheimer’s patients are virtually infants. All speech is gone. Feeding and toileting need assistance. They lose the ability to walk and are bedridden.
Reverend G is visited by family and friends, but it is God’s faithfulness that continues to sustain her.
As the author, I wrote Reverend G with some ability to comprehend thoughts although she can no longer voice them. The deep viewpoint was the tool I used because I wanted to show what we cannot know – how the Alzheimer’s patient can still feel love and experience faith.
This is where final grace becomes most important. John 14:3.
So these are the stages of Alzheimer’s, told from the viewpoint of our beloved Reverend G.
In the end, with final grace, even a fictional character can help us understand that once we belong to God – he will never, ever let us go.
©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh