What I learnt from my Mum was that dementia might strip away the normal neurological functioning but underneath that is the foundational love that we are all made of and nurturing touch supports a reconnection to that innate state.
Could it be that many of us become very far removed from safe and nurturing touch – especially as we grow older?
We embrace and cuddle children but as we get older we become more and more removed from one and another. How much harm does this do?
On another visit when again she did not recognize me, her eyes lit up when I held the bottle of hand lotion in my hands and she said, “yes, please!” We were communicating!
A few weeks later I observed her in a repetitive anxious state along with restless legs and lack of sleep. I wrapped her feet in steaming warm towels and then gently massaged the hardness from her legs and feet. She relaxed and calmed down and slept like a baby afterwards.
The asthma was so severe that she once required life support. All her life she was reaching for her puffer and I remember many instances where we would have to ring the ambulance because her symptoms were so severe.
With the onset of dementia the asthma dissapeared, it was as though it was caused by a sense of stress and panic that she could no longer remember, and so the asthma was gone, leaving her with a wide-eyed childlike innocence, and we became playful and funny in each other’s company. Not many words were needed to communicate and yet, we were communicating heart to heart in a true way, and our new relationship had begun through a gentle loving touch that would re-connect us to ourselves, each other and the harmony within.
We communicated through our shared love of knitting.
She had a frontal lobe dementia and so she would forget how to do things. When we were young she had taught me how to knit and so one day I brought in some knitting. She didn’t know what it was so I just began and then I passed it to her and it all came back.
When we were doing something we both loved and she remembered how to do it and so we had this lovely time just being together. In the end we knitted a great long scarf that I still have today.
These days a new relationship has developed through this experience for me to be working with and around people with dementia and their families. I might add that it wasn't always an easy road, sometimes to the point of exhaustion where I would almost lose my way. Usually, when I used to feel sorry or sympathetic towards another who I perceived to be suffering, I would get drained and exhausted. But to shut myself down, cold hard and detached and not feel, did not work for me either.
During this time I had much healing and support in the way of healing sessions with Serge Benhayon and other Unimed practitioners and I attended Universal Medicine workshops where I began to feel more of myself and understand the need for more loving care, nurturing and healing within myself. It was only then that I was truly able to develop an understanding toward others. I began to feel a warm detachment – true compassion for a person. It’s not that I don't care, it’s quite the opposite: I can accept that the person is exactly where they are on their own journey just as I am and there is no way I would want to interfere with their process, change them or provide a safety mattress to prevent them from feeling where they are at; nothing to fix, simply I love them just the way they are and they can feel that, too.
It is now possible for me to offer my assistance and true care without the entanglement and emotional attachment. I am more loving with myself, playful and able to get out of my own way and offer a true service.
Today, I find that giving massage treatments to people with Dementia is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of my job, and it all started with the inspiration I got from my relationship with my mother in her final years.