Dementia: Meditation Not Medication

Meditation design elements vector graphics 01

I don’t need any persuasion of the benefits of meditation.  Some years ago I began to show an interest in Buddhism, and began attending local classes in meditation.  I have had several teachers in my sporadic attendance, they have all  helped me to  grasp the simplicity of Buddhism.

When Jendrik, my current teacher, heard that I was unable to attend classes, because of Maureen’s condition, he popped round to see me.  Ed one of the longest members of the Grimsby Group has also met up for a chat on several occasions: we are getting together again this morning.

The Buddhist message, from both of my dear friends, has been to use this challenging time as an opportunity to address ‘self-cherishing’ and give ‘unconditional love’.  It therefore comes as no surprise to me that Meditation is now being seen as an important component of any strategy to deal with the impact of dementia.

Maureen has always been a little sceptical of Buddhism.  Therefore, I need to tread very carefully if meditation is to become part of both of our lives.  However, I’m optimistic that with patience she will see that meditation will become as beneficial to our lives as music. 

Any reader of this blog would know by now that we are generally reluctant to see medication as a panacea for health issues.  We believe in taking responsibility for our well-being with a healthy diet and exercise.

When we are unwell we look into our symptoms and try to find a solution without troubling our G P.  If natural cures don’t work we seek an appointment and take professional advice on the best way forward.  Even then we might try to sort things out ourselves once our ‘medicine man’ has made a diagnosis and prescribed his solution.

My Admiral Nurse has set me thinking about changes in Maureen’s presentation.  Her point that triggers are behind Maureen’s presentation has resonance with how I see the world.  In short I would put Maureen’s behaviour down to cause and effect: she is frightened about being abandoned and is searching for a life boat as she fears the ship is about to go down.

Working with the Home Treatment Team feels like with are with kindred spirits as we  seek calmer waters: they do not rely on the medical model .  They are aware of research that urges caution with an approach that relies on antidepressants and antipsychotic medication.  There is a strong body of opinion that these types of medication should not be used where dementia is a factor.  Thank goodness we are in that camp and not  fighting a battle to resist the introduction of antidepressants.

On Wednesday the Mental Health Nurse suggested that Maureen needed some help with regaining her confidence.  That has been my opinion for some time and  I do my best on that front day after day.  However, it is possible that a different approach or style could reap further dividends.  How lovely it would be to see Maureen ‘come out’ from behind the sofa and regain the vitality that has gone missing since stroke: with us all singing from the same hymn sheet that is now a distinct possibility.

Chloe our regular carer returns from her holiday today.  Maureen can’t wait to see ‘her hairdresser’ this morning: eagerly anticipating a makeover.  When I come home after seeing Ed at lunch-time I fully expect to see a transformation; with Maureen sitting chatting to Chloe rather than ‘Mrs Dementia’ being in situ.

If all goes to plan a Support Worker from the Home Treatment Team will be here on Sunday morning.  With luck she will persuade Maureen to go on a much needed clothes shopping expedition.  My late afternoon conversation with the HTT yesterday helped me to understand how significant their intervention can become.  How refreshing to have skilled experienced guides to help us find our way on this hazardous journey.

This post was finalised today 8th April 2016

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