That Awful Wasteland of Alzheimer’s

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What is Alzheimer’s disease (AD)?

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living. In most people with AD, symptoms first appear after age 60. AD is the most common cause of dementia among older people, but it is not a normal part of aging. Dementia refers to a decline in cognitive function that interferes with daily life and activities.

AD starts in a region of the brain that affects recent memory, then gradually spreads to other parts of the brain. Although treatment can slow the progression of AD and help manage its symptoms in some people, currently there is no cure for this devastating disease. AD is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German doctor. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer described changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. He found abnormal clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary tangles). alzheimers-brain

Today, these plaques and tangles in the brain are considered hallmarks of AD. The third main feature of AD is the gradual loss of connections between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. This loss leads to diminished cell function and cell death. We don’t know what starts the AD process, but we do know that damage to the brain begins as many as 10 to 20 years before any obvious signs of forgetfulness appear. As nerve cells die throughout the brain, affected regions begin to shrink. By the final stage of AD, damage is widespread, and brain tissue has shrunk significantly.

How many Americans have AD?

According to recent estimates, as many as 2.4 million to 4.5 million Americans have AD. Unless the disease can be effectively treated or prevented, the number of people with AD will increase significantly if current population trends continue. That’s because the risk of AD increases with age, and the U.S. population is aging. The number of people age 65 and older is expected to grow from 39 million in 2008 to 72 million in 2030, and the number of people with AD doubles for every 5-year interval beyond age 65. In the years to come, AD is expected to pose physical and emotional challenges for more and more families and other caregivers, in addition to those with the disease. The growing number of people with AD and the costs associated with the disease also will put a heavy economic burden on society.

How long can a person live with AD?

AD is a slow disease that starts with mild memory problems and ends with severe brain damage. The time from diagnosis to death varies—as little as 3 or 4 years if the person is older than 80 when diagnosed to as long as 10 or more years if the person is younger. Other factors that affect how long a person will live with AD include the person’s sex, the presence of other health problems, and the severity of cognitive problems at diagnosis.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a general term that refers to a decline in cognitive function so extensive that it interferes with daily life and activities. This loss in the ability to think, remember, and reason is not a disease itself, but a group of symptoms that often accompanies a disease or condition. Many conditions and diseases cause dementia. Two of the most common causes of dementia in older people are AD and vascular dementia, which is caused by a series of strokes or changes in the brain’s blood supply. Other conditions that cause memory loss or dementia include:

•medication side effects

•chronic alcoholism

•certain tumors and infections in the brain

•blood clots in the brain

•vitamin B12 deficiency

•dehydration

•high fever

•some thyroid, kidney, or liver disorders

Many of these conditions are temporary and reversible, but they can be serious and should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible. Emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression, can make a person more forgetful and can be mistaken for dementia. Someone may feel sad, lonely, worried, or bored when facing retirement or coping with the death of a spouse, relative, or friend. Adapting to these changes leaves some people feeling confused or forgetful. Supportive friends and family or professional help from a doctor or counselor can help older adults adjust to big changes.

Source: National Institute of Aging, http://www.nia.nih.gov/

Lamb Followers

JC-Lamb“These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.”

Rev. 14:4

Distinctions are going to be made, whether we like it or not.  John saw a select group of people who were extraordinary in many ways.  Their particular badge of honor was their deep and insatiable desire for the Lamb.  They saw themselves as followers whose happiness was only manifested walking in the footsteps of the Lamb.

“Lamb-followers” are a rare breed.  They are not like others.  They draw all comfort and well being by being in close proximity with the Lord, and maintaining that as their primary purpose. They follow Him because they love Him before anything else. Jesus has truly become their first-love.

Scripture has some eccentricities at times.  In this verse Jesus specifically and precisely is identified as a Lamb.  It is perhaps a bit unusual, as Jesus is given so many titles, names and accolades in this Revelation of Jesus Christ given to the gentle disciple, John. But why “Lamb?” There certainly others more majestic, more stately and dignified.

The Lamb is following his Father, and we are following the Lamb.  The Lamb takes an interesting path.  He takes us on a tour of discipleship, and we follow him through difficult challenges and sweet blessings.  He is most gentle and kind.  But he has supreme power and complete authority.  And yet, he is a lamb. An all-powerful lamb.

This badge of honor is a mark of special grace.  Lamb-followers understand this, there is no pretension to any righteousness within their minds.  Everything they need has been graciously provided.  It is their exclusive position.  And He gives it to all who ask for it.

They carry this distinction without any self-awareness or conceit.  Their eagerness to be with him strips them of any foul contamination, or they could never travel in his path.  The Lamb teaches them patiently.  They learn to strip themselves of all vanity and fleshiness.

The Lamb has gone to the cross.  He has laid down all of his deity and all its various divine accouterments. He stripped himself down and became the least of everyone. Lamb-followers must walk this same path, and it is most challenging.  But the Lamb also has come to his throne, and we who follow share in his glory. But He must become our soul’s “first-love.”

 

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Nowhere Man

Meaninglessness

“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

Ecclesiastes 1:1-2

Sometimes it takes us a long time to learn what life is all about. Like a fish making the step to seeing the water, or the bird determining that air exists. Both fish and bird are in their element whether they have conscious awareness of these real things.

But we are different. We are driven to know why we exist, and how is it so. Some of us determine that there is nothing– a deep and compelling vacancy in our universe. Simply, there is no meaning to be found, anywhere. In October 1965, the Beatles recorded, “Nowhere Man” which captured the angst of that generation.

He’s a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody

Doesn’t have a point of view
Knows not where he’s going to
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?

It’s funny, but we wrestle with the ‘spirit of this age’ as we are trying to learn the obvious. It seems that our most profound struggles have to do with what is real and what is true. We are compelled to find meaning somehow, and our frustration is often intensified by the passing of time.

Simply– we are running out of time, and we all know it. The dread we have is that we are wasting our lives. Every second that ticks by is irrevocably lost; wasted time is lost time. My generation has dealt with this in hedonistic ways. We often cover our lostness and anguish, with ‘sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.’ Others go out and make as much money as they can, or seek power over others.

But our odd quest for meaning is often like putting a mere band-aid on a broken arm. It not remotely good enough. So much is clumsy and so ridiculous it begs the question, “Has the quest for the cure become just another way of self destruction.” Our hospitals and prisons are bursting, and our mental health industry is making billions of dollars.

But there are two keys that open every lock.
  1. There is a God.
  2. You are not Him.

You must start with a simple mental assent, then progress to faith in a very real God. We Christians believe Jesus Christ came and died for us, building a bridge to God. Since you really haven’t found meaning your way, won’t you try His?

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

St. Augustine

“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.”

– Blaise Pascal, Pensees

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Prostitutes

 

Someones’s daughter                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God: the proud, the avaricious, the self-righteous, are in that danger.”                                                                                                                                                                                -C.S. Lewis

Pride is the motivating force behind Satan’s attacks on Christians. Pride is what makes Lucifer behave the way he does, it is what makes him evil.

Is it any wonder that God hates it so? Rather than growing in the image of God, we grow in the image of Satan. This is no small matter. Evil transforms us into something both sad and hideous.

Just in case you think you’re getting off scot-free we discover that there are companion sins to pride: greed and self-righteousness. (We can tack on others that are just as corrosive to the human soul.)

Do you feel you’re better than others? Does your ”gift’ tmake you special? Pride is what turns men into devils. Often we become the thing we hate. Especially when we aew “walking in the flesh.” Read Galatians 5:19-21.

I believe that a prostitute is closer to God and God’s Kingdom than the proud and the self-absorbed. Typically, a prostitute has no problem in seeing their sin.  They allow themself to be degraded and used every night. They are surrounded by the evilness of man.

“My people ask wooden idols for advice;
    they ask those sticks of wood to advise them!
Like prostitutes, they have chased after other gods
    and have left their own God.”

Hosea 4:12

ybic, Bryan

 

 

 

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