Blog Introduction

This blog explores the issues raised by the book, The Gift of Alzheimer’s, by Maggie La Tourelle. The book documents a heart and soul journey with my mother who had Alzheimer’s. It deals with the vicissitudes of Alzheimer’s, seeks meaning in the language and demonstrates the healing power of love.

Relevant comments are welcome, see below.

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Love and The Golden Rule

Blog 31

It’s Valentine’s Day and our thoughts are focused on the subject of love.

Bunches of red roses and bigger and more elaborate cards abound – for that special person, the one you love.

Not everyone is going to be the recipient of such Valentines Day gifts so let’s broaden our focus to unconditional love, the kind of love that is not dependent on romance and is freely available to all.

 

The Golden Rule says, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.

I imagine we all want to be loved unconditionally.

But can we really love someone else if we don’t love yourselves?

So how can we be more loving towards ourselves?

 

You can take some time to BE, just be with you.

Be kind, gentle, forgiving.

Shed a tear if need be.

Feel what it’s like.

When you have that lovely soft feeling, embrace yourself with your heart and soul.

Now you can share that very special love in the world.

Now you can, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’

 

When my mum had advanced Alzheimer’s she became very loving. She told me:

‘Love is what it is.’

‘The stillness of deep love, I can’t find words to describe it.’

‘I love everyone.’

‘Love never dies.’

 

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY

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Alzheimer’s – 10 Things you need to Know

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Alzheimer’s – 10 Things You Need to Know

‘You talk to me. Nobody else talks to me.’ Pat (my mum)

My mother Pat had Alzheimer’s and she taught me the ten things we need to know. I’ve quoted her to demonstrate these points.

  1. Alzheimer’s dementia clarification:

There is a lot of confusion between the terms ‘Alzheimer’s’ and ‘dementia’. There are over a hundred different types of dementia and Alzheimer’s is one type. However it accounts for between 60% and 80% of all dementias and is the most feared. Further more, within the category of Alzheimer’s there are many variations.

I have no brain cells left.’ My mother’s thoughtful self-reflection when she was at an advanced stage,

  1. How to communicate with people with Alzheimer’s – The LEV LP:

Listen! Really listen to them

Engage with them in their world.

Validate their experiences – they are real for them.

Do all this with Love in your heart.

Be Present.

  1. Thoughts continue:

When people with Alzheimer’s can’t remember what they have just said it is easy to presume they can’t think. I challenge this assumption on the basis of things my mother and others have told me. The following comment demonstrates my mother was still capable of thinking even when she was forgetful.

I know my thoughts are clear, I’m confused when I can’t remember.

  1. Feelings matter:

We need to be aware of the feelings of people with Alzheimer’s, and more importantly, our own feelings when we are with them. Feelings matter because they are about emotions and emotions matter because they have meaning.

‘These are wonderful moments. Remember them and feel them.’

  1. Meaning matters:

It is through meaning that we experience connection and for this reason things that have meaning matter more to people with Alzheimer’s. Meaning involves feeling and is direct. It doesn’t require the language part of the brain that is often damaged, to be active.

Observing the ocean before us my mother who had been a dancer silently lifted her very stiff arms and moved them rhythmically from side to side, mirroring the undulating movement of the water. What she was seeing had meaning for her and she was able to express this creatively.

  1. Emotional memory remains:

Research by Professor Oliver Turnbull et al., Bangor University, revealed that the emotional memory of people with Alzheimer’s continues even when other kinds of memory have diminished.

I’m remembering all the difficult times – all the people.’

  1. Emotional learning continues:

Turnbull also found that emotional learning continues, right to the end.

We’re much closer now, unlike before. We are like twins.

  1. Empathy increases exponentially:

Researchers at UCLA, San Francisco Memory and Ageing Centre found that as cognition declines empathy increases and this happens exponentially.

‘The eyes. I can tell everything through the eyes, every expression, every feeling.’

  1. Emotional contagion happens:

The term ‘emotional contagion’ means the convergence of emotions between two or more people.

I see love coming from your eyes.

‘Margaret is home and I am home. You are there and between and joining. Our energies are connected.’

  1. Altered states of consciousness can be transcendental states:

People with late-stage Alzheimer’s have intermittent altered states of consciousness. These can be transcendental and when they are they are enlightening, can bring great comfort and help the person prepare for a good death.

It’s difficult living between two worlds.

The stillness of deep love, I cant’ find words to describe it.

‘I am at peace. I have no worries and no fear.’

We’re learning we’re immortal. Death is nothing to be afraid of.’

Love never dies,’

The aim of this blog is to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s. I hope you have found what I have written helpful. Don’t forget to pass it on to others who might benefit.

Thank you,

Maggie

Maggie La Tourelle is author of The Gift of Alzheimer’s – New Insights into the Potential of Alzheimer’s and its Care.

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“We’re learning we’re immortal.” – Resurrecting Mum’s teachings

Blog 29

My mother delivered this message about immortality with a voice of absolute authority and insisted I tell others. She had been a very anxious person all her life and like most people had feared death. But to my amazement when she had late-stage Alzheimer’s everything changed. She said, “I have no worries or fear … death is nothing to be afraid of.” Knowing this she was able to face her own death fearlessly and even anticipate her life beyond.

So how did she do this? And how did she know she was immortal? She hadn’t been particularly religious and had had her fair share of troubles in life. As happens in late-stage Alzheimer’s she experienced intermittent altered-states of consciousness. Her sense of linear time diminished – past and future rolled into the present and she lost her sense of self, her ego. Her profound realizations came to her not through anything she was doing, but rather through what she wasn’t doing. She was just, ‘being’, in the ‘now’. ‘Being’ is a transcendental state and it is known that in this state people can gain access to subtle realms and other dimensions.

These things however didn’t happen to my mother in isolation. She needed a witness and trusted companion and I was privileged to fulfill this role. She led the way and I tried to ‘be’ like her: parking my ego to one side while being totally present. In this state of ‘being’ together we experienced feelings of deep, unconditional love that my mother summed up beautifully when she said, “Love is what it is.”

Taking a more rational view you wouldn’t be blamed for asking, was this merely a delusion? After all, most people assume that the wanderings of the Alzheimer’s mind are delusional. And did I become deluded too? Did we both want to believe in immortality so created the illusion?

Something extraordinary happened during this time that convinced me that this was not a delusion and that what my mother was telling me was the truth. She became very psychic and on at least eight occasions told me things about myself I hadn’t told her and of which she had no ‘normal’ way of knowing. This convinced me that she was tuning into some other level of consciousness, possibly the Universal Information Field, and was accessing the information from there.

Since the personal information she was giving me was one hundred percent accurate, how could I be selective and not accept that the other information was accurate too? After all, what she was saying about immortality is what mystics and religious teachers have been telling us throughout the ages. Further more, her memory was severely impaired so it seemed to me that this information was coming to her directly from a source of wisdom on a non-physical level.

Moving from believing about immortality to knowing it has had a profound effect on me. It had changed how I experience life. Knowing could change your life too. Don’t think about it, ‘be’ it, know it, now!

Looking forward to connecting again.

Maggie La Tourelle

Author of, The Gift of Alzheimer’s – New Insights into the Potential of Alzheimer’s and its Care, Watkins Publishing.

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“Love is what it is.” Mum

Blog 28

“Love is what it is.” Mum

“The stillness of deep love, I can’t find words to describe it.”  “I love everyone.”  “Love is what it is.” “Love never dies.”

These are just some of the things my mother told me about love when she had Alzheimer’s. As Valentine’s Day approaches I am aware of the gulf between my mother’s kind of love and the commercialization of love conveyed in the many trappings that surround us: larger and larger cards, bunches of identical red roses that have no perfume etc..

Reflecting on the love I discovered people with Alzheimer’s can experience, and reviewing some of the explanations for it, I find little has changed since I wrote about this last year. But it is important for us to keep love and our loved ones in our hearts so I am posting an edited version of last year’s blog.

Let’s start by asking, what were the conditions that enabled my mother to experience such deep love? It was not only my mother who experienced this, it has been found that many people with Alzheimer’s have the capacity to give and receive love. Even more surprisingly this happens when major functions, such as short-term memory and vocabulary, have significantly decreased. So what is happening? Neuroscientists may be able to shed some light on this.

Professor Oliver Turnbull at The Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, Bangor University, UK, has researched emotional-based learning in Alzheimer’s. He found that emotional memory continues independently, even when other kinds of memory are decreasing. Not only that, people with Alzheimer’s continue to learn emotionally right to the end. This means new, loving relationships can develop even when everything else seems to have been lost enabling life-long wounds to be healed.

Other research in neuroscience discovered the important role of empathy in Alzheimer’s. When researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, (UCSF) Memory and Ageing Centre analysed the functional MRI scans of people with Alzheimer’s they found that as the part of the brain that is involved in cognitive processing decreases in activity, another part of the brain, the one that processes feelings of empathy, becomes more active. As a result, people with Alzheimer’s become very sensitive to nuances of facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures etc. Not only that, they mimic what they are seeing, hearing and feeling. This is called, ‘emotional contagion’. Further more, the same researchers found that as the disease progresses, feelings of empathy actually increase.

What has this to do with love? Well these findings have huge implications for all those involved with people with Alzheimer’s. If for example we feel love towards the person with Alzheimer’s, he or she will sense this, feel it too, and express it back to us. But because of their high level of sensitivity they will reflect back to us exactly what they are feeling, be that love or some other emotion.

It is important to acknowledge that although many Alzheimer’s suffers respond to love with love, some don’t and continue to be aggressive towards those who care lovingly for them. It is not fully understood why this happens but it may be that they are suffering not from Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, but from another kind of dementia that is affecting a different part of their brain. There are over 100 different kinds of dementias and it could be argued that there are as many kinds as there are sufferers as everyone has an individual pattern of neurological degeneration.

There are other factors at work in late-stage Alzheimer’s. The part of the brain that filters and moderates thoughts and feelings, prior to expressing them verbally, ceases to function properly. When this happens people with Alzheimer’s say exactly what they are thinking and feeling. This lack of inhibition can be quite disconcerting and can result in the expression of negative as well as positive thoughts. But if love is being experienced and expressed to us then we should embrace it wholeheartedly without reservations or embarrassment. Mutual feelings of love can lead to beautiful symbiotic relationships.

Another factor that I believe is involved is the slowing down of brain activity. This results in the person focusing only on what is happening in the moment, without the distraction of thoughts from the past or thoughts about the future. Being totally in the ‘now’ means attention is focused on what ever is present. If this is love, then love is all there is.

Alzheimer’s Love:

Is not exclusive. It is inclusive and universal.

It is not transitory. It is enduring and eternal.

It is not something. It is everything.

“Love is what it is.” Mum.

Looking forward to the next stage of our journey together.

Maggie La Tourelle

Author of, The Gift of Alzheimer’s – New Insights into the Potential of Alzheimer’s and its Care.

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Loving Christmas

Blog 27

Loving Christmas

Helen Keller, a deaf and blind American author said, ‘The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart’. Christmas provides us with a special time when we can touch people’s hearts. The way we do this is not so much by what we give but more importantly how we give, and how we receive. When my mother had advanced Alzheimer’s she felt with her heart and our gifts to each other were through the feelings in our hearts. She emphasised the importance of feeling when she said to me, ‘These are wonderful moments. Remember them and feel them’.

So let us consider how our heartfelt feelings of love and gratitude might be expressed and experienced this Christmas. We interpret feelings through our senses: we can see emotion in someone’s eyes, hear it in his or her tone of voice and feel it through the quality of their touch. Although words are the main means of communication for most of us it has been found that words themselves are the least effective way of communicating feelings and emotions. The exception to this is poetry where words are the vehicle for expressing meaningful thoughts and feelings.

Since feelings are communicated mainly non-verbally, people with Alzheimer’s who have limited or no speech can still communicate effectively with us when it comes to feelings. In fact neuroscientists have found that people with Alzheimer’s have a greater capacity for empathy than we do and tune into our feelings much more than we might imagine. The same scientists found when we feel love for people with Alzheimer’s they respond with feelings of love for us. They call this, ‘emotional contagion’.

So let each of us connect with our heart this Christmas and let our feelings of love shine through our eyes, resonate though our voice and be felt through our touch. And when we are receiving a gift, be it a material gift or a loving look, tone of voice or gesture, let us take a moment to feel gratitude and be thankful in our hearts for what we are receiving.

Throughout the ages sages have taught us that Love is eternal. My mother confirmed this when near the end of her life she told me, ‘Love never dies’. So when we are giving and receiving this precious gift of love remember, it is not just for now, it is for eternity.

Wishing you a loving Christmas and looking forward to connecting with you again in the New Year.

Maggie La Tourelle

Author of, The Gift of Alzheimer’s – New Insights into the Potential of Alzheimer’s and its Care.

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We live, we die and then what?

Blog 26

We live, we die and then what?

As golden and russet leaves flutter softly down and settle on the ground I find myself contemplating their cycle and the cycles of life. We live, we die and then what? Depressed? No. Why? Because I am blessed to have been witness to my elderly mother’s extraordinary sojourns into the Other World. She told me, with a voice of absolute authority, ‘We’re learning we’re immortal. Death is nothing to be afraid of. I have no worries, no fear’. This was followed by, ‘You must tell others’. So this is what I am doing now.

Were my mother’s proclamations just those of an old lady who had Alzheimer’s and was delusional and hallucinating? Most medical doctors and many others would say yes. Not so according to a growing body of research and the opinions of more and more people. At a recent conference on near death experience, NDE, for four days I listened to presenters from around the world who had researched this subject or had had a near death experience themselves.

One of the speakers, Pim Van Lommel, an internationally renowned researcher in the field of NDE, gave an informative talk. He cited studies of patients who been declared clinically dead, mainly after cardiac arrest, coming back to life and reporting, with one-hundred per-cent accuracy, things they had seen and heard during the time they had been dead. Another presenter, Anita Moojani, author of, Dying to be Me, fell into a deep coma when she had end-stage lymphoma. To everyone’s amazement, including the doctors, she regained consciousness and proceeded to recount in great detail her experiences of being in the ‘Other World’. Within days her body had healed, something she had been told would happen during her NDE, and within weeks she was completely cancer free. Dr Eben Alexander, an American neurosurgeon and author of, Proof of Heaven, gave a powerful talk about his own near death experience and miraculous recovery. He says it has completely changed his understanding of life and death and as a result he can no longer subscribe to the Western scientific medical paradigm that he had held throughout his professional career. He says the evidence for life continuing after death is overwhelming and speculates that within ten years every intelligent, thinking person will acknowledge this.

On the strength of the experiences I had with my mother, The College for Psychic Studies, CPS, invited me to give their Gwen Tate lecture. Gwen Tate was a member of the ‘Tate and Lyle’ family and had been a member of the CPS. Upon her death her husband asked that in her honour the College host 2 events a year that show evidence of life after death. So it is a great honour to have been invited to give this lecture and share my story. https://www.collegeofpsychicstudies.co.uk/events/view/id/317/gwen-tate-lecture-the-gift-of-altzheimer-

So what is my story? It started when my mother had late-stage Alzheimer’s and one day she said to me, ‘It’s difficult living, working between two worlds.’ Had I dismissed this it would have been the end of her telling me about her experiences – there would have been no story. But being a seeker of consciousness, far from disregarding what she said I was deeply curious and excited at the prospect of finding out more. This marked the beginning of our heart and soul journey together that continued for three and a half years. During this time I recorded our conversations about life, death and life beyond the veil and these conversations form the heart of my book The Gift of Alzheimer’s.

My experiences with my mother, the extensive research in the field and the extraordinary stories of those who have ‘crossed over’ and come back, leave me in absolutely no doubt about the continuation of life after death. When we know this it changes our perspective on life – it is an enormous shift. Loosing my fear of death has changed my life. I hope you will discover this gift for yourself and the new sense of freedom and joy it brings.

With deep appreciation,

Maggie La Tourelle

Author of The Gift of Alzheimer’s – New Insights into the Potential of Alzheimer’s and its Care

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Many Happy Remembrances

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Many Happy Remembrances

In celebration of World Alzheimer’s Month – Remember Me, I am posting a collection of memorable things my mother said. They are mainly her words, not mine. I found them inspiring and I hope you will too. It shows that, far from Alzheimer’s being totally negative, people with the disease can give us hope, comfort and teach us the things that are really important.

‘These are wonderful moments. Remember them and feel them.’

I want you to remember the good times.’

‘I know my thoughts are clear. I am confused when I can’t remember.’

‘There are so many things to remember. They are next door in the next room.’

‘My thoughts, they float by and disappear and I can’t catch them, remember them. They are lovely, just lovely, wild.’

Looking out at the ocean I asked Mum what she was thinking. She said, ‘I see shapes’. She proceeded to lift her very stiff arms above her head and started swaying from side to side, mirroring the undulating waves before us. It showed me that the dancer in her was still alive and well. Movement was the language of her soul.

I remember Mum slowed me down and taught me to be present in the moment.

Be true in the moment Margaret’ Mum told me when I asked her for advice.

On a wheelchair walk Mum and I stopped to look at a pink dog rose and smell its delicate perfume. She taught me to take time to appreciate the simplest things in life.

That’s lovely’ Mum said when I rested my head gently next to hers.

‘It’s difficult living between two worlds.’

We’re all living in other worlds.’

‘We’re learning we’re immortal.’

‘Death is nothing to be afraid of.’

‘I am at peace. I have no worries, no fear.’

‘Love is what it is.’

‘The stillness of deep love, I can’t find words to describe it.’

‘I love everyone.’

‘Love never dies.’

With deep gratitude,

Maggie

Maggie La Tourelle is the author of The Gift of Alzheimer’s – New Insights into the Potential of Alzheimer’s and its Care, Watkins Publishing, 2015

www.thegiftofalzheimers.com

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Remember Me

Blog 24

Remember Me

It is World Alzheimer’s Month and this provides us with a special time to remember our loved ones. But how could I forget my mother? What I experienced when she had Alzheimer’s changed my life in ways I could never have imagined and for which I am eternally grateful. She said, ‘I want you to remember the good times,’ so this is what I am going to do now.

Remembering Our Love

I remember it started when seeing my mother’s frailty, I felt compassion for her. Noticing this she said to me, ‘You love me’ followed by, ‘Love is what it is’. This came out of the blue, unfiltered and straight from her heart. It marked a new beginning in our previously, troubled  relationship. My mother had suffered from mental instability and depression throughout her life and because of this she and I had struggled to get on. It was Alzheimer’s that enabled us to find a truly loving relationship and a positive way forward.

Empathy and ‘Emotional Contagion’

Did you know neuroscientists have discovered that in Alzheimer’s, as cognitive function declines, the part of the brain that enables empathy becomes increasingly active? This means people with Alzheimer’s are very sensitive to nuances of expression: our facial expressions, voice tones, gestures etc. They really tune into us. Not only that, they reflect back to us what they are sensing. This is called ‘emotional contagion’. These research findings have huge implications for family and carers. They highlight the important role we play in determining the emotions and mood in people with Alzheimer’s.

Remembering the Dancer

I remember when my mother and I were sitting silently overlooking the sea I asked her what she was thinking. She said, ’I see shapes’. ‘What shapes are you seeing’ I asked. Without saying a word she lifted her very stiff arms way above her head and started to sway from side to side, moving her body, arms and hands in a rhythmical motion. I knew instantly she was mirroring the motion of the waves and sea that lay before us. This was a magical moment that filled me with joy. It showed me that despite her severe disability and limitations the dancer in her was still alive. Movement was the language of her soul.

Remembering my Mother’s Two Worlds

Another time I remember my mother saying to me, ‘Its difficult living between two worlds’. Was this a hallucination? Was she delusional? Many would have dismissed her remark as the ramblings of the Alzheimer’s mind. But looking at it from my mother’s perspective her experience was real for her and for this reason I validated it. Little did I know then that this acknowledgement was going to be pivotal in determining what happened next and for the duration of our journey.

Altered States of Consciousness

As Alzheimer’s progresses, and more and more brain cells are destroyed, people loose their sense of self and their sense of linear time – past and future move into the present. When this happens people have intermittent altered states of consciousness in which they seem to slip into another world. I remember after telling me about her two worlds my mother said, ‘I have no worries, no fears, I am at peace’. She also assured me, ‘Death is nothing to be afraid of’. She would never have been able to say these things before she had Alzheimer’s as she had been in a permanent state of anxiety. So what she experienced in the ‘Other World’ was extremely beneficial to her and helped her to prepare for a ‘good death’. It was also very reassuring and comforting for me.

Remembrances

What my mother and I were experiencing was full of surprises and insights and recognising this she said, ‘You must tell others’. And so my work as her faithful scribe began: writing down many of the interesting and curious things she was saying and recording our conversations. Sometimes it wasn’t immediately obvious what she was trying to communicate as her loss of vocabulary forced her to substitute words and speak in metaphorical language. However having this record enabled me to reflect and search for the meaning embedded in what she had said. To my amazement what I found was often rich in meaning, illuminating and showed deep wisdom. It is wonderful to be able to read her words and listen to her voice now and through this, photos and other memorabilia I can remember her with great love and affection as if she were still here.

Remembering my mother has reminded me:

– Giving and receiving love is the most important thing we can do and we can initiate and facilitate this with people with Alzheimer’s, and of course with others we encounter in life.

– Irrespective of what has happened before it is never too late to heal the past.

– In the ‘Other World’ people are at peace, free from pain, worry and fear. When we validate this ‘Other World’ we can embrace it with them.

– When we are truly present and really listen to people with Alzheimer’s we discover that they can teach us.

These are just some of the Gifts of Alzheimer’s.

Maggie La Tourelle

Author of The Gift of Alzheimer’s – New Insights into the Potential of Alzheimer’s and it Care

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Let me out! No, Let me in!

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Let me out!  No, Let me in!

Residents in care homes are frequently heard pleading, ‘Let me out’! As this usually isn’t safe or practical I am suggesting that instead relatives start asking, ‘Let me in’! Relatives can be a wonderful resource for care homes, not to mention for their own loved ones. They know better than anyone their loved ones personal preferences and it is likely they will be asked to provide this information on admission so that it can be included in their loved one’s records. However, handing over power to a care home does not exclude relatives. I am suggesting that closer cooperation between care homes and relatives would be a win, win situation and a gift for everyone, including the loved ones. So what can relatives do and how might they do it?

Outings: Let’s start with the obvious. In the summer when the weather is fine relatives can take their loved ones out. This might be as simple as exploring the grounds of the care home. Alternatively it might be a walk or wheelchair ride to somewhere in the local vicinity or a short trip to a special place that holds fond memories. Being in nature has beneficial healing effects for everyone so is always a good choice if available. It doesn’t need to be a grand outing – just ambling along and taking time to engage and observe things and people can be a lovely experience. The outing might involve just family or friends or be part of a larger group.

Note: Outings must be authorised by the care home in advance and any limitations fully understood and adhered to for the safety and wellbeing of your loved one and you.

Outings are stimulating and have many of benefits. They provide:

– Special time to be together.

– Time away from the noise and routines of the care home.

– Much needed fresh air after the hot and stuffy atmosphere of the care home.

– an opportunity to reconnect with special places from the past.

– a way of connecting with the outside world: watching and engaging with people, children, dogs etc.

– time in the tranquillity of nature, viewing distant horizons, watching the clouds go by and birds etc.

These are but a few of the benefits of outings. People with dementia may not remember the outing they have just had but that doesn’t invalidate it in any way. It is being in the moment that matters and our loved ones with dementia can teach us about that.

‘In-ings’ – What can relatives do in the care home. This is an area that is less well defined but I would like to open it up. There is lots of scope for relatives to become involved in doing things in care homes and I believe they are a huge untapped resource. So how then might a relative approach this? Here are my suggestions:

– Let your loved one settle in and you get to know with the staff, environment and routines of the care home. Visit as frequently as feels right for you.

– Develop a friendly relationship with the manager, staff and residents.

– Ask if they have an activities organiser and if they do, find out what activities they have and when and offer to join in any that interest you.

– Once you have established a relationship with the manager or activities organiser think about what you might want to offer. Do you like gardening, cooking, craftwork, singing, playing keyboard, poetry etc.? If you enjoy any of these activities tell the activities organiser you would like to be involved. If there is something you would like to do that is not in their programme, speak to the organiser and ask if she or he would support you in setting up a little group on a trial basis.

Always be supportive rather than confrontational unless there are grounds for concern about the safety and wellbeing of residents. Staff and management are often overstretched and have an extremely difficult job. They need all the assistance they can get so once they have got to know you and are aware of your desire to help they are likely to welcome you with open arms.

End-stage dementia – Individual personal caring:

In end-stage dementia, when the person is nearing the end of his or her life and is immobile, the type of care needed changes from activity based to one of individual personal care. In fact, everyone at this terminal stage should be getting the equivalent of hospice care. This takes care not only of physical needs, but social, emotional and spiritual needs as well. Relatives can play a very important role at this time and here are some of the things they can do.

They can offer gentle hand massage, foot massage, personal grooming, play special music, read short poems and other things.

There is a wonderful programme called Namaste Care created Joyce Simard. Her book Namaste Care tells you all you need to know about the programme – what to do and how to do it. Although written primarily for care homes, relatives can engage informally in the ways suggested even if the programme hasn’t been formally implemented by the care home.

These videos show some of the benefits of Namaste Care in practice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RE0VSpoR8ac

http://www.namastecare.com

If the care home is unfamiliar with this programme you might, once you have gained their confidence, talk to them about it.

May you be open to, and create wonderful new opportunities and gifts for your loved ones and yourself.

Namaste

Maggie

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‘If only I had known …’

Blog 22

‘If only I had known…’

This is what a tearful woman said to me after a talk I gave about my book, The Gift of Alzheimer’s. (My book is about the journey I took with my mother when she had Alzheimer’s.) Like most people, the woman’s experience of her mother’s Alzheimer’s had been anything but a gift. But as she listened to what I was saying she gained new insights into the disease and came away with a completely different perspective on it. This enabled her to see the potential there can be when you understand what is happening and know what to do and how to do it. Her regret was that she had not known this when her mother was still alive and she felt sad that she had let her mother down.

How often do we look back with regret and wish we had done something differently? When my mother had Alzheimer’s she had a number of flashbacks to difficult times in her life but instead of brushing these under the carpet we addressed them together. I told her, ‘Mum, we all do the best we can at the time otherwise we would have done something different. It is easy in retrospect to judge, but at the time we did the best we could.’ To my amazement she understood this instantly – she relaxed, smiled and moved on. I suggest that as well as telling people with Alzheimer’s this we tell ourselves this when we being judgemental.

Although this woman got some consolation from not judging herself in the way she had done, she nevertheless still had feelings of sadness that the time had passed and that it was too late for her to put things right with her Mum. But was it too late? I believe it wasn’t and will explain why. We can shift our attention to any time and place and experience it as if it is now. After all we do this naturally when we daydream and when we dream in our sleep. So why not do it consciously? I suggested to the woman that she sit quietly, centre herself and tune in to her Mum. In this state and with her attention on her Mum she could talk to her and, knowing what she knows now, be with her in a new way and imagine doing some things differently with her.

I understand that some people might find this suggestion far fetched but there is lots of evidence of people in this world communicating with deceased relatives in the Other World. Just because this phenomenon can’t be explained scientifically doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Before she died my mother had communication with deceased relatives and was interacting with them in a very positive way.

So how might this work? Here is a very brief explanation. The Huna philosophy states, ‘Energy flows where attention goes’. This is how telepathy is thought to work. Our thoughts are energy and if our attention is on a loved one who has passed over they will pick up our thoughts. Some say when we tune into the non-physical world we are tuning into the Universal Information Field (UIF), sometimes called the Akashic Field, where time does not exist and all information including the energy or spirits of our deceased relatives reside.

Now you know how to heal the past and that it is never too late to do this with a loved one who has passed over or yourself, right now.

Looking forward to connecting with you again.

Maggie La Tourelle

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