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From 2010: Jan's story - A Love Lost to Alzheimer's

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

Video from CBS Sunday Morning

From 2010: Jan's story - A Love Lost to Alzheimer's

"Jan Chorlton was a promising television reporter working with CNN, ABC and CBS News. She was lively and daring, one of those people who celebrated life. But at only 40 years old, the subtle changes of lapses in memory began. Correspondent Barry Petersen reports a personal story of early-onset Alzheimer’s, first broadcast on “Sunday Morning” June 20, 2010. [Jan Chorlton Petersen died on May 11, 2013.]" from video introduction.

I have worked in healthcare as an LPN for 10 years retiring in 2020. In my experiences in working in a hospital, Home Health, Family Medicine I witnessed first hand the devastation of Alzheimer's.

But we know that God does not leave us to our suffering and conclusions. Christ sufferes with us just as he cried for Lazarus he has sorrow for us as we suffer through what sin has revealed in our debility. For those with Dementia and Alzheimer's Christ and the Person of the Holy Spirit are close and draw closer as the disease progresses. We are never alone.

"Reporter Tiffany Owens travelled to Massachusetts to meet Elisabeth and Lars, and shared the encounter in World Magazine:

Lars Gren led me down a dim hallway to a simple room lit magnificently by floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out over the Atlantic Ocean. A slim, elderly woman dressed in black pants and a floral shirt — her hair swirled in a bun — sat near the fireplace. “We have company today,” Gren said, bending down to touch her hand. His wife, Elisabeth Elliot, nodded but did not reply. Since the onset of dementia about a decade ago, the best-selling and widely known Christian author communicates mostly through slight hand gestures and facial expressions. For everything else, there’s Lars Gren, her husband of 36 years. He and two caregivers attend to her daily needs. . . . Elliot stopped giving speeches in 2004 as her health worsened. . . . Gren says Elliot has handled dementia just as she did the deaths of her husbands. “She accepted those things, [knowing] they were no surprise to God,” Gren said. “It was something she would rather not have experienced, but she received it.” Hearing these words, Elliot looked up and nodded, her eyes clear and strong. Then she spoke for the first time during the two-hour interview, nodding vigorously: “Yes.”

Elisabeth Elliot’s life reminds us ministry is best done in the shadow of suffering, not in its absence. The same is true of personal maturity. “Many deaths must go into reaching our maturity in Christ, many letting goes,” she wrote years ago, and dementia is now for her a string of daily letting goes..." from the article: Alzheimer’s, the Brain, and the Soul

"For the sake of those terminally ill with Alzheimer’s, and for the sake of those who love and care for them, I am thankful that God includes this terminal psalm in Scripture. This life is not a fairy tale. Not everything finds a bright resolution on this side of eternity. And God can seem chillingly absent when circumstances are darkest.

Psalm 88 does not include God’s response to Heman, but as one of King David’s head musicians (1 Chronicles 25:1), Heman must have been well acquainted with Psalm 139:8, “If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” and Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” So Heman likely wrote Psalm 88 not to confirm God’s absence, but to affirm the human experience of feeling as though he were.

God can certainly feel absent in the Alzheimer’s experience, but he is near even then. And even in the land of forgetfulness, he leads us and holds us (Psalm 139:10)." from the article:

For more information or to donate: Alzheimer's Association

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