When there is a rock in our path, we can stumble over it or use it as a stepping stone.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dementia and spirituality

There was a discussion on a dementia group today that made me do some thinking.  My conclusion is that while it is important for everyone to make actually living their spiritual values the focus of their life, it is even more important for those with a dementia diagnosis.

The reason I believe this is that it is likely that no matter how many things we do to try to take advantage of the new findings in neuroplasticity* to rebuild our brains, chances are we will lose more functioning over time, albeit more slowly than if we didn't try to regain lost capacity.    I truly believe if that we train our brains to focus on thoughts in line with our spiritual beliefs while we still are functional enough to be aware that we chose our thoughts and that our behaviors and emotions are based on the thoughts that we chose, then choosing positive loving thoughts will be so engrained in us that even as we deteriorate, we will be more likely to continue to interact with our caretakers and others around us in in a loving, rather than bitter, resentful way.

I am glad that I have never seen myself as a victim of or suffering from dementia.   Having dementia is not a choice for me, but not suffering from it is.   We suffer when we resist what is, see what happens to us in life as unfair.   When we remain aware at all times that everything that happens is an opportunity for learning and spiritual growth, then there is no suffering.    (That does not mean there are no challenges to face as without them, there would be no growth.)

I have known from the beginning that my dementia is a learning opportunity for me, a vehicle for continued spiritual growth.   I pray that the daily work I do on myself (including my daily gratitude practice) will allow me to always view my dementia and osteogenesis imperfecta, etc. this way.  No matter what happens to my human body as time goes on, if I can remember that "we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience," I will be fine.

*I have another thick book on  neuroplasticity at home but I am not at home atm to get the title but I do have with me on my vacation a book that my doctor recommended "Power Up Your Brain  The Neuroscience of Enlightenment" which also talks a lot about the research being done in neuroplasticity to show that even older and/or damaged brains can regain a lot of function.

5 comments:

Caliope said...

Your ideas and attitudes are inspiring.
I am looking at the use of virtual environments for reminiscence therapy, so I have been most interested to read about your use of SLife.

Thank you again,

Caliope

NewKidontheBlogg said...

There are many parts of the brain that can take over.

As a Christian I agree with you about spirituality. My husband and I pray together each night. Often, since he doesn't remember what happened, his sweet prayers that the LORD for blessings and the wonderful day. My prayers might bring up something he has forgotten and then we talk about it.

Carol

Stumblinn said...

Thank you for your kind words, Caliope. SL is where I am the most active each day, followed by other social venues such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. On my foggy days, I tend to be much quieter online (doing more reading than writing) but I spend some time online every day as it is how I stay connected with the rest of the world.

Carol, I think that is a fantastic additional benefit of prayer. I believe prayer and gratitude practice are two of the most wonderful things in the world as they help us keep focused on all of the good in our lives.

We live (in the U.S.) in a culture where it is the norm to complain about how terrible things are. I rejoice every time I see someone focusing on the positives in life.

Stumblinn

Joseph Potocny said...

Hi Stumblin,
thought i let you know i do come here.

God Bless,
joe

Stumblinn said...

Thank you, Joe.

I see you are now in the FB group too. :)