Having worked with many dementia patients in the past, and having had experience working in a secure unit specializing with aggressive and violent dementia patients, I naturally began to look deeper into the causes of this distressing illness.
Often at the hospital where I worked we saw the same scenarios – a person who once had a respectable work and family life ending up living some of their days when needed in a padded cell, because of the danger they presented to themselves and others.
On many occasions I was shocked to see both elderly men and ladies possess a strength that required at least four adults to restrain them, in order to keep themselves and others safe.
The behaviour I have witnessed over the years has at times been shockingly aggressive and I have asked myself:
What on earth takes over these once fully functioning, aware human beings?
What possesses these people to act in such ways?
I have wondered if there is more at play here than we currently acknowledge.
Science has shown us that everything is energy so could it be possible that when we choose to not to be aware and fully present with ourselves, that we are allowing another form of energy to run us? The phrases, “What’s got into you?” and “They are not themselves,” come to mind as examples of everyday language that perhaps portray this reality of another energy running us.
As I write now statistics are not good. The Global Voice of dementia states: “As of 2013, there were an estimated 44.4 million people with dementia worldwide. This number will increase to an estimated 75.6 million in 2030, and 135.5 million in 2050. Much of the increase will be in developing countries.”
This is pretty terrifying and causes an unbelievably immense strain on our health care systems.
There is talk of this cure and that cure and every day we are told something different about the causes of dementia, from the kitchen frying pan to genetics.
Personally I feel there is more to it than this:
we need to look at how we are living every day and how this impacts our physical and mental function.
It seems to me that every unloving choice, if not dealt with, will eventually stack up against us. In fact every time we eat something our bodies do not truly want, use a stimulant, or say yes when we mean no, all these choices add up. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of ways we can numb ourselves to not feel the pain of the way we are living, a way that is not true for us, whether it is creating drama or drinking alcohol, or checking out in front of a TV or computer screen.
These behaviors in their many, many different forms all send messages to the body saying, “I do not want to be here.” In fact every time we “lose” ourselves in something or to something, we are actually saying no to life.
The body registers everything that happens and repetition of any behavior along with avoidance of what is true starts to erode our cognitive function.
Could it be that our choice to be unaware of what is truly going on in our own lives and bodies builds up until it impacts our mental capacity?
Could it be that, for some of us, we have become so far removed from our real truth that we are now lost in a reality that is not true?
As my awareness of this illness grows, I know I have a responsibility for myself, my family and society to stay present and connected with myself and those around me, and to deal with my issues as and when they come up. For me this means embracing life and not giving up on myself when things feel tough and stressful, it means looking at the devices and distractions I use to cover up and numb out what is really going on, and lovingly – without criticism – bring honesty to the real reason for the need behind distraction.
It is also important to lovingly assess where we are at in terms of unhealthy habitual behaviour. If we are unable to live without substances such as alcohol, caffeine and sugar, are we saying that it is ok to check out of or abuse our bodies?
At this time in history as dementia gets more and more prevalent, the future for this disease looks very bleak and overwhelming. We all need to take responsibility and look at how we are living, we need to get very personal and honest and ask, “ What do I not want to feel? What habits and behaviors do I repeatedly use that get further ingrained and take me away from the reality of what I truly see?”
Years of avoiding oneself and not listening to what we truly need eventually take their toll on both the mind and body.
By staying lovingly present with ourselves and dealing with our stuff as it comes up, we are able to see life as it is, even if at first this is uncomfortable.
When we choose to override our own feelings and use methods of numbing, we are encouraging a reality that is not true.
Although the behavior of the dementia patients I have worked with over the years can be very distressing, I have a strong knowing that their very essence can not be tainted. They are still love on the inside no matter how they present to the outside world.
If we want to see the dementia rates go down, then a whole new level of responsibility needs to be adopted, both our personal responsibility for ourselves, and our collective responsibility for society as a whole.
1) Checking out – are we sowing the seeds of our own dementia?