BOOK REVIEW

DUNLOP - Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia

Compelled by the Gospel, PPL equips Presbyterians to champion human life at every stage

It’s not an exaggeration to say that John Dunlop's Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia, has helped me more than anything I’ve read (other than God’s word itself) since the day I heard the doctor say the words “mild cognitive impairment” in describing what was happening to my husband. Our diagnosis is now “early-onset Alzheimer’s” and I find my greatest struggle to be my own spiritual unpreparedness for this particular trial. So, when I finally opened this book purchased over a year ago and began to read, I was amazed to find it offered exactly the help I need!

John Dunlop sets out to “write on how dementia can bring honor to God.” He sticks to that focus throughout this book which is both informative and inspiring. Reading from a caretaker’s perspective I found both comfort and challenge inside these pages. Dunlop illustrates his points with real-life stories—not in a sentimental or sensational way but in ways that inspire caretakers, friends, and family of the person who has a dementia diagnosis to see them as whole persons. He skillfully leads readers through a layer by layer unwrapping of the strategies that can “allow us to honor God as we navigate the challenges of dementia.”

I especially love that this book is written through a theological lens with many Scriptural references and insights combined with information about dementia gained from Dunlop's years of medical experience with dementia patients. I love that he ends each chapter with a prayer—in every case one that echoes my own cries for God’s assistance and my desire to glorify Him “in the face of dementia.”

Of special interest to pastors and life team leaders in churches is the chapter on “What Should the Church Do?” Dunlop gives practical, spiritually focused tips that will help people with dementia and their caregivers, before diagnosis and through every stage—even when death is imminent. He puts it this way:

“When we focus on the cross, we see the trials of dementia in a totally different light.”

Dunlop states,

“For a disease that is likely to affect one-third of those in the congregation, it seems to me that the church is failing to address this issue. We need to do a better job equipping God’s people to cope with the suffering associated with dementia.”

I think a study of John Dunlop’s book, Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia is a great place to begin.

Review by Marie A Bowen, Administrative Director of PPL