Grace for the Unexpected Journey
Published in the USA by Moody Publishers in 2018, Grace for the Unexpected Journey: A 60-Day Devotional for Alzheimer’s and Other Dementia Caregivers, by Deborah Barr, brings encouragement from scripture as well as sound practical advice based on Barr’s many years of experience supporting caregivers through the Alzheimer’s Association. It is available from online Christian booksellers in the UK.
This devotional has many stories and quotes from carers and is honest but hopeful about challenges in supporting a person with dementia, with relevant scripture references and theological reflections. The complex range of emotions experienced in caring for a person with dementia are described in the context of Christian truth. There are sections for the reader to write their responses to each devotion. The book contains wise advice on looking after yourself as a carer, as well as enabling the person with dementia to live as well as possible with their condition. This makes the book not only spiritually uplifting but also a useful manual in dementia care-giving.
We are offered down-to-earth tips on taking breaks, rebooting after a bad day, sleeping and eating well, laughter, music, and being willing to accept help from friends and family: 'Solo care-giving is like trying to carry a sofa down a flight of stairs by yourself.'
Best of all, carers of people with dementia are affirmed in their role, as we read in this section from Day 31 Care-giving - the Movie:
'Few people will ever know what you do faithfully, day in and day out. But in the theatre of heaven, your story is a big hit. God, your biggest fan, intently watches in real time each day as you serve and love and sacrifice for the person in your care. He knows the meaning of every expression that crosses your face, and he reads your heart as well, so he knows you grow weary and are sometimes not “into” doing what needs to be done. When you do it anyway, from the balcony of heaven he rejoices and applauds. He knows you are not acting, and he loves the “movie” of your life that he is watching. He knows too that a great reward awaits you – one far more precious and eternal than any Hollywood Oscar' (p. 154).