Mark Vander Meer
Early Onset Alzheimer’s
Mr. Mark Vandermeer, of Frederick, died Saturday, December 22, 2018. Arrangements are by Gary L. Rollins Funeral Home , Frederick.
Mark Vander Meer's Bio
Mark Vander Meer spent his life serving others as a Pastor, a neighbor, and friend. He led Monocacy Valley Church from a humble start in a Frederick school to its current location in Ijamsville MD. At the end of his practical sermons he was known to end with a benediction from Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” I doubt he knew how fitting this verse would come to at the end of his own life.
In 2013 Mark struggled in his search for answers about uncharacteristic struggles in his ministry leadership. The usual abilities of planning, organizing, decision-making, writing and delivering sermons became hurdles. His anxiety and bouts of debilitating depression spurred on the search for a diagnosis. In May 2014, a diagnosis was given, and it hit hard. Mark was formally diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s and the world began to spin. In typical fashion his wife of 41 years, Evie, and two sons, Josh and Aaron, rallied to his side. They shared their struggles openly, became ambassadors for Alzheimer’s research at state and national levels, and spent as much time as possible building memories that they hoped would make a difference as the disease claimed more and more of Mark.
As his family looks back over the past year in pictures, Mark’s fast cognitive decline is harshly evident but his love for Evie and family has not faded. Precious, too, is his delight of his young grandson Zeke. Mark’s days in a residential dementia care center, are now spent walking up and down hallways, with his one-on-one caregiver. He seems to be comforted when he walks hand in hand. Often, he will stop suddenly and look at the person holding his arm, square in the eye. He seems to become aware, for a brief time, of the person next to him. The joy of those moments is a delight to all who love him and walk with him. It is in those bright moments when we celebrate the promise of God that His love is never removed from Mark and the presence of the Holy Spirit is clearly guiding each of his steps.
As Mark’s disease has progressed, anxiety and agitation are behavioral symptoms which dominate Mark’s day, hour by hour. Assisted Living, nursing homes, and dementia care units lack sufficient staff and often lack adequate training, to accommodate such symptoms. As a result, Mark’s care in a dementia care facility requires round the clock, professional, private duty caregivers. This care is 2.5 times the cost of the cost of the monthly assisted living costs. To give the quality of care deserved means out of pocket cost and is not covered by insurance.
The family wants to thank all who have given what they felt led to give. Above all, they cherish the stories of how Mark has impacted them personally. Over and over a similar thread is shared….when there was a need, Mark saw it met. He walked the walk…..over and over and over. Now we have a chance to love him through this transition.