About once or twice a year, I receive a Coaching request on the issue of “Alzheimer’s Disease”. According to the Dictionary:
“Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment”.
I am usually reluctant to do “Coaching” around this topic because I am not a medical expert, but foremost because it is usually the relatives of the person asking for help, not the person themselves. Coaching can only be successful if it is in the will of the person. In fact, in almost all instances where people are asking me to coach someone else, I decline. “Please coach my son, I don’t like how he is behaving!” “My wife needs Coaching, could you please coach her?”. I say: “If the person specifically asks me for Coaching, I will”. The exception to this rule are employees in a company. But even in that case, I ask all employees whether they are eager to participate or feel forced to.
With Alzheimer’s, this can quickly elicit the following response: “But he/she is not acting responsibly! He/She doesn’t care” or “He/She is not aware enough to choose Coaching!”.
But taking away free choice and responsibility from the elderly person, is not helping the elderly person. Treating them like children who don’t know what they are doing, likely contributed to their decline. (I realize this is a “controversial” thing to say, but it’s not that controversial to me. What you think about others, influences them).
Or maybe their Alzheimer’s is at a stage where they can no longer make a conscious decision. But then, they are no longer at a stage where they can be coached. Coaching requires a consciously aware Being. Then, Coaching could be done with the relatives.
In cases where I do agree to help, one or several of these four things are usually found. The person “suffering” Alzheimer’s…
1. Doesn’t have goals to achieve or a purpose/mission to follow. This usually based on the false assumption that one is “too old” to have any new goals.
2. Does not fully embrace and enjoy life. Sometimes there is a hidden resentment or resistance, and this is what causes a gradual retreat from life, over time.
3. Is calling for attention because he/she is not getting any or not giving him or herself any.
4. Has over-used his/her mind too much, rather than following heart and soul. Thus mind and it’s memory go out of operation and make way for ones’ essence.
Depending on which of these issues has caused the senile dementia, these approaches will help:
1. To define goals and be engaged in pleasant and purposeful activities in harmless surroundings every day.
2. To openly express grievances and resentments and let go of them.
3. To receive attention and give oneself attention.
4. To pay more attention to feeling, loving, laughing and let go of the need to think, control and analyze.
If no changes happen, the person will do what most unhappy people do: Gradually leave life, deteriorate in emotion and memory.
This is normal if people are fed up with life and don’t have anything to look forward to.
Relatives and friends can help by not rewarding negative statements and behavior with attention, but giving more attention
to positive statements and behavior, asking questions that direct the persons attention to pleasant, beautiful and desirable things (good
work, good art, good talk, good food, good people, good tasks, good teachings, good deeds, good books, good films, good places, etc.)
If you wish to apply Reality Creation Techniques to the situation, you can do this: Build a reality around the person, remindful of when they were younger. Bring in the furniture that evokes the style of that time. Recorded TV Shows or Radio stations of that time. The fashion of that time. “Acting as if” one is younger has proven remarkably helpful in regaining lost memory and the lucidity of earlier days in many cases.
But if a person wants to leave, then there is nothing you can do but give them well wishes, patience and care. It’s not helpful to project sadness and pity onto other people. What helps them is the trust that their higher self or soul knows what it is doing, is in good, divine hands and transitioning to a better place. What you think about the situation, has a much higher influence than most people know.