Healing From Within – Tools and Spiritual Insights for working with Alzheimer’s
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Host: Sheryl Glick R.M.T.
Special Guest: Megan Carnarius
In today’s episode of Healing From Within, your host Sheryl Glick , author of her newest book The Living Spirit: Answers for Healing and Infinite Love which shares a look at Universal Energy Healing and our Multi-dimensional uniqueness as spiritual beings having a physical life, welcomes Megan Carnarius author of A Deeper Perspective on Alzheimer’s and other Dementias as she shares her vast experience as a licensed care giver for those with Alzheimer’s’ and has discovered that her patients as essentially timeless beings can be given a positive loving and compassionate supportive environment for their wellbeing and for our own healing process. As Megan wrote… “A person with dementia has a whole and well spirit and in the broadest sense their brain is but a vehicle of self-expression: it does not define their essence.”
Personally, Sheryl experienced Megan’s book, as most accurately and wisely sharing a clear multidimensional view for healing mind-body and spirit and to learn that all diseases, traumas, and challenging life events, offer us a way to ultimately manifest a new level of health and a greater love of life when we embrace the challenge in the most positive and courageous loving way.
Megan shows us that there is a need to revise our current methods for taking care of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and to see what may appear to be hopeless can actually provide opportunities for insight, inspiration and a greater view of ourselves as expanding and evolving human beings. Megan shares how to create a supportive environment around the various stages of the disease, a clearer definition of the various forms of dementia and what to expect from the patient as the disease progresses. Megan is a registered nurse, licensed nursing home administrator and massage therapist who has experience in designing and running memory care settings.
Megan decided to write this book because of her life experience with care-giving, an interest in healing and some understanding about chronic illnesses.. “People with Alzheimer’s just grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.” By reading A Deeper Perspective on Alzheimer’s and other Dementias readers can take away a more positive less scary view of dementia and many approaches on how to deal with things that come up..a practical way to see the similarities between people who have this disease and the best ways to use your resources energy and intelligence so you can maintain balance and a more relaxed way of living during challenging times.
It has been noted that when societies are stable and thriving there tends to be movement toward improving the quality of life for all citizens young and old, well or sick, however other cultures treat dementia with fear and ostracism and when there are not enough resources and understanding these people are lost.. Even now there are many pro and con responses to “Agism”… stereotyping and the question of how old is Old and how to care for this segment of the population.
Some examples of how people deal poorly with dementia-ism are;
- Speaking in front of the person about them as if they are not there…
- A physician telling a family It’s Alzheimer’s without doing any clinical or lab evaluations: or telling them they should contact hospice while the person with memory loss is still highly mobile, has a tan and still hikes in the mountains….
- An official saying all people with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis should be locked in secure areas, with no acknowledgement of the stages of progress….
- Staff or family helping too much and not allowing a person with memory loss to have a sense of ownership of their own day.
Megan uses storytelling to elucidate different aspects of illness using examples from people she worked with. Sheryl loves the story of St Francis who has a fear of lepers and tells his companion Brother Leo that the next leper he meets he must kiss on the mouth..Brother Leo tells him not to do this but St Francis trusts in the dream he had and does kiss the leper..then he wraps the leper in a robe and carries him toward the town…when he opens the robe the leper has disappeared and St Francis declares… he is now one with Christ because he was shown love…Megan’s mother who suffered several difficult health episodes expressed to Megan that what grows in our hearts when we face some dark aspect of ourselves or perceive this is in others is angry emotion or feeling hatred which is simply fear and under every fear is a need for understanding and love… The truth is many people are frightened by illness and rather than show compassion and love express their fear in many negative ways…abandoning the person who is ill and not spending time sharing moments of living no matter how simple or limited the event may be.
Sheryl tells Megan that she loved reading about Megan’s family doctor as he was a true healer incorporating Western medicine and alternative methods and understood disease as a multi-dimensional way for the soul to experience greater progress and understaning of the real values of Spirit. Megan’s family doctor Dr. Henry N. Williams after graduating from medical school, became interested in homeopathy and believed in hand-on-healing and the power that resided in the patient to “heal thyself.” Different situations called for different approaches.. He used allopathic approaches modern medicine antibiotics and homeopathic or herbal approaches and like shamans and healers of various cultures were aware that some illnesses relate to spiritual distress, some relate to relational distress, and some are really what you ate last night.
Megan tells us about two scientists of the past who focused on the cause of disease..Louis Pasteur and fellow scientist Claude Bernard had an on-going argument about the nature of germs. Pasteur believed in germs as a cause of disease.. Bernard on the other hand believed it was the “soil” or inner part of an individual that the germs landed on that created the dynamics of an illness…a clearer soul or soil within could perhaps withstand the same germs that might inflect a less well balanced or harmonious individual… Sheryl and Megan would agree with this assessment of disease and challenge that we face…As we come into this world with a plan for our soul development many of the experiences we face are there to help us grow into spiritually aware and empowered beings with greater love compassion and a trust in the Universal or Divine Plan.
Getting back to the definition of Dementia as a serious and increasing problem in today’s aging population Dementia is defined as severely impaired memory and reasoning ability usually with disturbed behavior associated with damaged brain tissue. Just as a bone can be malformed at birth or injured during a life experience so the brain also can be malformed, injured, or altered along the way making abilities or disabilities occur.
Dr. Alois Alzheimer was a physician in Germany at the turn of the last century. A young woman was admitted with the signs of senility but due to her age was considered far to young for this condition. Until now the explanation for senior moments was thought to be a part of the aging process. When this young woman died Dr Alzheimer performed an autopsy and discovered significant brain pathologies that differentiated her condition from normal aging changes in the brain…In normal aging some shrinkage occurs but in this case the brain was excessive atrophy. Alzheimer’s and other dementias are caused by some kind of physical or chemical change and memory loss is not normal no matter what age… One statistic among others in this book suggest 50 percent of those over 85 years of age will develop Alzheimers or some variation while only 5 percent between the ages of 45 and 65 years of age will.
Megan mentions she is a Quaker and for a time worked with Priests who had Alzheimer’s. She had many dreams about working with Mother Teresa in India and felt it was like some kind of parallel reality and she was also affected by reading Florence Nightingales book Notes on Nursing where Ms. Nightengale believed the role of the nurse was all-encompassing…cooking the meal feeding the patient tending to their wounds, helping them with exercise, all activities, listening to them and doing laundry.. In the modern area all these aspects of care have been diversified..dietary, housekeeping, laundry physical therapy occupational therapy nursing (medications and treatment) and activity programs..Sometimes this causes fragmentation burdening the patient with making sense of how everything works and this is very hard for a person with dementia
Megan’s great love and values for loving others were instilled in her early on and she writes, “Growing up I was taught that we all have higher selves, and that this aspect of self is aware of far more than our everyday self. Through our dreams, meditation and moments of inspiration we strengthen our sense of knowing. We can access and work with greater consciousness with the higher self. I was taught that in life, we are meant to Learn, to love to make a difference. This has been the foundation of my perspective….” It is the reason that Megan has been able to deal with her own health challenges that of her family and remain a force for healing for so many others in her community.
Sheryl says to Megan, You were actually given all you needed to succeed and thrive in life and beyond with those very words…
In Sheryl’s book, The Living Spirit: Answers for Healing and Infinite Love she discovered those inevitable truths Megan was taught early in life much later and through great self-investigation Reiki energy healing work and meditation and Sheryl wrote…”Spirit allows us to face challenging situations that our energy (emotions and thoughts) bring into our lives and help us to see that we are on the right or wrong track. Therefore we are co-creating our life by observing what is happening and by seeing how to make the best of any situation. Through our faith and the surrender of some of our personal needs, we allow the Universe and a higher source to help us find ways to search and remember our already preconceived destiny and life plan. Spirit gives us all the time in this world, in this life and other lives and beyond to find our greatest means for developing levels of infinite love and healing as evolving compassionate expressions of the Divine.”
Megan tells us that in the past it was thought that keeping confused potentially agitated patients out of the way..away from view and the public would be best…Structured activities were not provided and it was not known that if they had things to do and ways to connect to past roles and life experiences and strengths they would do better. Providing an environment that is more reminiscent of their home and making it comfortable for family to visit is better than providing a medically sterile environment. It becomes apparent that you must respond to them the way they are accustomed. It becomes clear over time in working with a long term care patient that they realize how to get someone’s attention, how to get their needs met and that they have to recognize the caretaker is helping others. They know they are reliant on their caretaker and tend to try not to frustrate or annoy that person.
A caregiver should always get enough rest, find activities for fun and relaxation, on time away from the work be with people and activities that you enjoy…laughter dreams prayer and a belief in a higher source is definitely a way to stay on higher ground in the midst of tough situations.
Megan write, “For example in situations where individuals know each other such as in families and their local prayer groups who pray at a bedside, improvements in patients outcomes have been documented. Measurable improvements in long distant prayer or healing situation regardless of whether the participant knew the patient they were praying for. We also do not know at what level a prayer has been received. We often look for relief in the physical symptom we are trying to ease, but there may be an easing on an emotional level or some other level of self that is hidden from outside observers. Sheryl tells Megan that she knows she believes in the spiritual or energetic part of life and that when we die those who loved us and have gone on ahead are there to greet us and welcome us home: dying is the inevitable step to a reality beyond the physical dimension…”
Sheryl says “As an intuitive Reiki energy healer/medium and a hospice volunteer for eight years I helped patients and family remember this truth and that they were not alone and many shared amazing stories of spiritual visitations or dreams, near death experiences, and help received by forces that could not be explained such as people who appeared to help in trying times…As far as distant healing and prayer several years ago on New Year’s Eve a family member called and asked me to do whatever it was I did in the way of sending energy as his wife’s young cousin only 19 had had a massive brain bleed and it was looking quite bleak…of course I did what I had been trained to do went into meditation sent Reiki healing symbols and loving intentions for the best result for this young woman and I felt the fear and anguish of all and the severity of the girls situation…I continued to send energy for days and thankfully with the prayers and skills of her healing team the girl survived, Though in a care center for many months she eventually made a full recovery…. Of course healing and prayer can only aid in the soul’s needs and journey and if it is necessary to pass nothing can stop that..but perhaps in this girl’s case the love and prayer of so many supported her soul’s desire to live and thrive again..”
Sheryl says to Megan, “ I think when your mom was physically not able to function in her normal way and knocked out of commission on an earthly basis her spirit was able to engage in some deeper work. Afforded the space and time to do this can be a fruitful time for the spirit..Perhaps this is the purpose of all chronic illness and long term disability..” Megan writes “It turned out during this time she had been mostly unavailable to us she had been revisiting aspects of her life in enhanced detail and working on forgiveness. This took the form of forgiving not only those things that had been done to her or that she had done to others, but also of forgiving very subtle things she had not understood were the threads of cause and effect, connections, and in a state that was somehow between the mundane here and now and the hereafter…In these altered states she was able to glean insights into the work of the soul”… She called this Preparing for a Peaceful Transition…and it was a living Life Review.
This book will help people caring for those going through the difficult dementia process find a way, through the challenges to remain awake and open to the blessing of the journey…there is no destination only the moments of life as we live them and the way we allow our heat to open, nurture compassion and ultimately become better human beings. It is also for those brave individuals living with memory loss illness, so that they’re supported and allowed to live their experience fully in their own unique way to express themselves, to love and be loved, and to be sheltered from harm. A person with dementia has a healthy and well spirit and beneath the disease is the same person you may remember and love…treat them as we must all souls lovingly and with kindness
Megan Carnarius author of A Deeper Perspective on Alzheimer’s has shared a lifetime of continuous learning about one of the most challenging health issues of our time—Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and sharing tools insights and a spiritual way to deal with the challenges of helping those who are trying to maintain a quality of life humor and love no matter what.
Sheryl and Megan have taken an in-depth look at an illness which quietly steals a part of the person’s personality memory and quality of life and tried to show how in a spiritual sense it enables all parties to conquer fear, learn acceptance, and develop a quality of love and compassion heightening our humanity and helping our souls to reach upward to ask for guidance and all help that may make this time for the body and soul to work together in harmony and balance accepting the divine aspects of a person’s life and respecting the limitations of physical life. As Megan wrote, “In later stages they are no longer involved in mundane worldly existence and are in a deep internal state that we as caretakers generally cannot reach into and share. Dementia has built a world around them, as it they entered a cloister. Rather than think of this wall as an imprisonment, I view it as a final honoring of the life this individual has led and of the body or vessel that housed them. Allowed to cocoon, it affords the time needed for the soul to attend to deeper aspects of the self on a spiritual level. My last hope is that in the final stages, when ready, the individual can let go and be allowed to let go, when they know it’s time.”
As in all things in life Megan and Sheryl would have you know we can only do our best for ourselves and others with the knowledge tools and assistance available to us at any given time and try to hold on to faith abiding love, humility and dignity as we face the physical changes of Alzheimer’s and any form of dementia, old age and terminal illness and know that as energy beings we will only be transformed and aligned to a new form of creation and existence.