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Rev. Klockers: Planning ahead for what Alzheimer's or dementia may take away

by Rev. WALTER KLOCKERS
| August 12, 2021 1:00 AM

“While the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings in my life.” – Sandra Day O’Connor

Over the years, I’ve ministered to a number of parishioners who have had a severe decline in their mental capacity.

This happened near the end of their lives. Some of these folks had dementia, others Alzheimer’s disease. Each case was different.

The experience of one fellow gave me reason for pause. This man was stuck in a short mental loop for quite some time; he talked about a few things over and over again.

As strange as it may sound, all things considered, I thought he was in a good place.

What do I mean? Well, during our visits, it was quite evident that he appeared to have lost most of his short-term memory. On the other hand, his long-term memory was whittled down to a few happy encounters. They seemed to be intact.

So, for the last months of his life, he would talk about the same memories that gave him the most joy.

I remember thinking to myself, “If one has to go down the path of Alzheimer’s, what a blessing to hang onto the best experiences of one’s lifetime for as long as possible.”

Hopefully, we can avoid these diseases.

However, if such should be our fate, my prayer is that the best of our memories may be the ones repeated and relived.

In the midst of what may seem like a curse, may there still be a blessing.

While there is no way to assure that such would happen, we can increase the odds by creating positive experiences now.

May God guide you today in making future memories, whether we should encounter these diseases or not down the road.

Either way is a blessing.

Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Moses Lake and has served as parish pastor for more than 30 years.