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The Christophers: Dimentia Caregiver Helps Others Like Her

Tony Rossi,

Director of Communications


Elizabeth Humphreys was first introduced to caregiving at age 10 when her brother, Michael, and her mother, Madelyn, were both diagnosed with different forms of cancer a few days apart. While Madelyn survived breast cancer, Michael succumbed to Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Years later, when Elizabeth was 27, she noticed changes in her mother’s behavior that included excessive drinking of alcohol, loss of empathy, and an inability to stay on topic when having a discussion. It took three years before Madelyn was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Though Alzheimer’s and dementia are often portrayed as memory diseases, there is more to them than that. The patient can also suffer from hallucinations, agitation, and illogical anger. Elizabeth faced this situation with Madelyn, all while also being a young wife and mother. As a result, she felt traumatized in both her regular life and her spiritual life. During a Christopher Closeup interview, Elizabeth explained, ”I was angry with God, so I didn’t lean on Him at all.”

That was how Elizabeth lived as a caregiver for nearly six years before finally admitting she needed help. She contacted the Nashville chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and was connected with a young woman who recruited her to be a fundraiser for them. Elizabeth soon thrived at the job, while also finding healing by being part of a movement that brings support to the six million people in the U.S. who suffer from Alzheimer’s/dementia and their 11 million caregivers.

Elizabeth’s efforts became so successful that she felt called to do even more. That’s when she created her own nonprofit, Mind What Matters, through which she financially assists caregivers for dementia patients in their difficult work. People who apply for caregiving grants through the website use it to hire a professional aide to provide a few hours of respite care, or to offset medical or pharmaceutical costs. Grant recipients are appreciative for whatever Mind What Matters sends them, and Elizabeth acknowledges that giving money to the needy is “what Jesus called us to do.”

One thing that helped Elizabeth move forward spiritually was discovering a speech Madelyn had written years ago for an American Cancer Society fundraiser, shortly after her son died. “She found herself at a museum in Connecticut…staring at a picture of Mary holding Jesus lifeless in her arms,” Elizabeth recalled.

Madelyn wrote, “I was drawn to Mary’s face and then to her eyes, which looked out at me with the unmistakable anguish of fresh grief. And as my gaze met hers, I felt a rush of recognition and comfort. I knew this pain. I began for the first time to understand my son’s death…as a universal event which could therefore be communicated and shared with others. In sharing our experiences and connecting with others, we’re able to attach meaning and find a level of insight not otherwise available to us. And this is how we survive the most difficult of tragedies in life’s hardships. We find the strength to move beyond them with community.”

These insights, along with Elizabeth’s experiences, improved her relationship with God. She reflected, “I think it is acceptance of the tremendous sorrow that accompanies life. I think this is where faith comes in. This is where, if you don’t have it…the darkness can eat you. But to the extent you give [your suffering] over, [you can] say, ‘I’m never going to understand this, God. I just know that I trust You, and that You’ll carry me through it.’”


For free copies of the Christopher News Note CAREGIVERS NEED CARE, TOO, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail:

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