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Bum Grasshopper

Dementia in old people

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I used to think that dementia was nature's way of anesthetizing us for death. Now I suspect there may be something spiritual involved. Why do some get it, others do not? Aren't these people returning to a child like, ego less state that cultivators aspire to achieve?

 

I wonder what some of your thoughts are on this?

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I'd say not. The ego-less mind is no longer subject to compulsive actions or tendencies; it is completely free. Those unfortunate to suffer from dementia do not match this criteria.

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Its most likely brain degeneration. When something like the function of the hippocampus is affected, memory formation is impaired...or the thalamus, a general sensory gate...it seems to me that dementia is closely related to impaired midbrain function.

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I don't think that adults aspire to a child-like state. Maturity is about transforming the vital forces into consciousness, and in the process the true self takes its rightful place and the false ego is no longer needed. The kind of innocence that I think you're referring to is just a natural quality of the true self, but it's not really child-like, only in the sense of being without artifice.

 

Dementia is a condition that can have many contributing factors. The basic meaning of it is a shutting down from life. Many older people have really never dealt with their emotions in a healthy way. When they have too much undigested emotional experience that they can't process, they may revert to a coping mechanism to protect them from more input that they can't handle.

 

The pressure cooker of their consciousness is under too much pressure, so instead of letting off steam in healthy ways, which they generally don't know how to do, they turn the heat down, which also turns the heat down on their life force.

 

Chronic miasms can be involved - these are inherited predispositions to disease that can be triggered by traumas. You often see that dementia sets in soon after a person goes through a traumatic experience that they couldn't process.

 

I have personal experience with this in my family, and that pattern of emotional shutdown is very evident. What helps is to address the emotional blockages to allow the person to let off some emotional steam.

 

The challenges that people face late in life can sometimes be some kind of preparation for what they need to accomplish in the next life, not only about effects of the past.

 

-Karen

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I'm getting a first hand look at this through my father. The diminished mental faculties are no doubt caused by the deterioration of the organs. Less oxygen is getting to the brain. Even though there is a medical explanation for this, I'm seeing it as a natural process of the body preparing for death. The entire process of a an elderly person dying a natural death (not a young person dying in an accident) has a definite spiritual component. The liturature that hospice left for me says that people die the way they lived. Kind of tough to watch it happining first hand, but it's a very profound experience.

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The organ weakness is all related. The organs have spiritual forces that keep our metabolism going unconsciously. Those cosmic forces have to be transformed into consciousness, otherwise the organs become weak. And if the organs are weak, we're influenced by foreign etheric and astral forces that don't belong there.

 

So it all comes down to consciousness - when we're young, we have vital forces that get used up in growth and reproduction. But in older years, those growth forces have to be channeled into consciousness, or else we get sick.

 

And it may be perfectly "natural" for a particular person NOT to develop consciousness in this life, as that was not their purpose in being here, but whatever they experience has purpose in terms of whatever they came here to work out. It's also natural to treat the miasms and other blockages that commonly hinder health and spiritual development.

 

My best to your dad, Eric. I'm going through the experience of watching parents decline, too.

 

-Karen

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Thanks for the kind words Karen. Could you please briefly explain or define consciousness in the context that you are describing? Thanks

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I see the human organism as being infinitely complex, extremely delicate, yet miraculously resilient at the same time. Whether through age, virus, toxins, trauma, or whatever mechanism, various systems eventually malfunction. In dementia, it is the brain and most remarkably the function of short term memory.

 

Much of cultivation focuses on the effects of thought and memory in maintaing the sense of dualism or individuality. In that sense I find myself sometimes looking at memory as a "bad" thing. Dementia helps to teach us the importance of functional memory in normal social and survival function.

 

As to the 'why' and notions of reason or purpose, I think 'why' questions are generally a consequence of our dualistic mindset. We tend to project our human thought process and question the reason or meaning behind things as if there is someone or something outside of us "doing" the universe to us... Why do we tend to expect any reason or explanation. And if there is one, why would we expect to understand it? I often ask myself why not? That is, I find it amazing that we don't manifest more illness, aberrations, break down sooner or more frequently, etc...

 

Dementia is a horrible thing to face in a loved one. My sympathies go out to you, Eric, and anyone else dealing with it.

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Eric, I'd be glad to explain, but it'll take more than a quick post, and I won't have time in the next couple days, but will get back to you for sure.

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I work in Mental Health and Dementia patients can become agressive and be also like a child at the same time cant remember there wife or husband sitting right in front of them.

 

Sad really!!!

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Sometimes what we call dementia can result from a gradual sinking into the subconscious as the person retreats into their body. If someone is dying gradually, aspects of the subconscious can become as real to them as what they are "normally" conscious of. But it doesn't make too much sense to those around them.

 

Sometimes it's just accumulated blockages, too much in the system over a lifetime.

 

Often spinal problems and not enough juice getting up to the head. There are special bum-wiggling seats to address this.

 

Metta to everyone coping with this. It's not easy.

I

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My grandfather was fine one day, the next, he wandered across the street and could not find his way back. My grandmother had a gradual effect, over years. Yes, even though they may have forgotten who I was, they still had the same underlining spirit. Now that I have been contemplating the ways of the Tao I am looking at the process differently.

 

I have had other relatives die of old age that kept their demeanor right up to the end, or very close to it. Blockages, coping mechanisms, viruses, toxins and the like have their way, but am I not correct in that western medicine has no evidence of a cause or cure in most cases?

 

I wonder how TCM views the condition?

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Blockages, coping mechanisms, viruses, toxins and the like have their way, but am I not correct in that western medicine has no evidence of a cause or cure in most cases?

 

I call it allopathic medicine or conventional medicine, because not all western medicine is short-sighted - there is a western system of medicine that understands the causative level of disease. But you're right - conventional medicine doesn't know the cause of dementia, because it doesn't understand the true nature of it.

 

Dementia is a condition, which can arise from various primary causes - the causes can be different in each person who exhibits the same symptoms. A system of medicine that is only looking at symptoms, naturally can't understand what the condition is, because it's not a constant thing.

 

It's like trying to find the cause or cure for "headache" - well, for one person the cause is dehydration, so the cure in that case is drinking water. For another person the cause is suppressed anger, and the cure is removing that particular blockage. So the cure for "headache" will always remain elusive, because headache is the symptom not the cause. The best that can be done in the allopathic world is to manage the symptom.

 

In a system of true diagnosis, the causes are identified, and those are the real diseases. Those can be known, for sure, although not in the allopathic world which is based on the Kantian worldview that only the outer appearances of things can be known.

 

We can cure disease, although we don't have control over life and death. So a person can have their diseases removed and still die when it's time. Sometimes dementia arises out of diseases, and sometimes it's just a part of the natural decline for that person, as people here have said. Sometimes a little of both.

 

-Karen

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Our hospice nurse told me the process is like walking down a hallway with a series of doors. At each door the person has to decide to pass through, knowing that they can't turn around and retreat. Once you pass through a door you can't go back. Then it's on to the next door. Not necessarily related to dementia, but very much in step with the overall conversation.

 

BTW, just to clarify, Dad does not suffer from full blown dementia. Up until a few months ago, he was very alert and sharp. Several recent set backs with chronic heart and lung disease has greatly affected his thought processes and mental accuity however. Never the less, his days here are coming to an end and my comments have been of observing the process of elderly leaving this life. Thank you for all the kind words. Rain, I wish you and your mother the best.

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there is an entire process explained at the tao garden, which can be reversed

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Well I held my grandfathers hand as he passed a way. The few months before he became more withdrawn. At the end he couldn't talk or communicate much except for an occasional smile. He was a beautiful man and his passing was every bit as beautiful as he was. It was probably the most amazing experience I have encountered so far, in many ways. (I will keep them private so that they remain intact)

 

I get the feeling that the Qi components that comprise what you call "you" begin to disperse before the body dies in some cases. That would explain why "personality" attributes tend to disappear with many people as they approach death. That would also explain why you can get a sense of the "spirit' of the person regardless of the major changes.

 

But then I have come to realize that my pop-Taoism fueled understanding of Jing, Qi and Shen is completely inaccurate, so I am probably not using the term Qi correctly. You get my point though.

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Thank you very much Karen for taking the time to write such a thoughtful reply. This will take some time to ponder :)

 

Darebak, thanks for sharing your experience as well

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You're welcome, Eric. For me personally, the dementia as a sign that the person is leaving soon, is a great gift to me, bittersweet at it is. It reminds me to cultivate the spiritual relationship which isn't limited to the physical form.

 

-Karen

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This thing called dementia...IMO and I'm beginning to experience a bit of it myself.

 

Three years ago at 62 I built my current home pretty much my myself.....Now my strength is slowly going south........

 

even though I practice Karate....walk and am quite active sexually etc I can sense the separation......

 

My mind also, although I write a lot, think a lot, and play mind games a lot......is also separating itself a wee bit more every year...........so in that sense it is what it is. ..people get old they wear out.

 

The one thing I do believe though is as you age you become who you truely are.....you just don't have the desire to play the personality game any longer........mean will be mean........content will be content

 

My only hope is that I will reveal to my kids the joy that I feel for life and the wonder of it all till my dying moment........even if I do forget their names :-)

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The one thing I do believe though is as you age you become who you truely are.....you just don't have the desire to play the personality game any longer........mean will be mean........content will be content

 

 

 

Is this not what we aspire in Taoism. to dissolve the ego self and be who you truly are? Are you falling into dementia or are you getting enlightened?

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My only hope is that I will reveal to my kids the joy that I feel for life and the wonder of it all till my dying moment........even if I do forget their names :-)

 

:)

 

Not that anything needs to be added to that.. but I think it's interesting that people worry about forgetting things, not about remembering things - it would be pretty awful if we remembered everything! :blink:

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