Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Meet Me At The Bridge

"Meet me at the bridge," was a common expression that my ancestors used 100 years ago. Families would meet extended family members every Sunday after church on the outskirts of town at the footbridge by the entryway to the park. They would gather in their "Sunday best," cradling wrapped baked goods in wicker baskets for picnics by the lake. Everyone in town would do this. (There were no computers,  cellphones or TVs.)  Lawns under the oaks, pines and elms by the lake would be littered with families gathering for laughter, fellowship and conversation. They would sit in the fresh air on checkered blankets, sharing fried chicken, potato salad,  home made apple pie, bread and butter pickles and lemonade. There would be games of "hide and go seek," rowboat races, magic shows and dancing to the sounds of fiddles, banjos, guitars, ukelele's, barbershop quartets and local ragtime bands. Times were simple then, and social interactions were "face to face."

Today, caregivers also have bridges. Bridges connecting the past to the present. Bridges building a greater awareness of memories, feelings, behaviors and actions with intentions of manifesting clear and honoring pathways to spiritual, physical and emotional well-being. What is the bridge? Where is the bridge? And how do we, " meet at the bridge, " to fully express the inner wisdom that each and every soul, regardless of physical, mental or emotional limitations,  has as their unique inborn, innate capacity to express ?

These are all life sustaining questions worth pondering. And with the advent of more and more people growing into their elder years afflicted with dementia and other health challenges into their 90's, it is imperative that caregivers embrace a shift from today's accepted paradigm of control, chemical/physical restraint and institutional isolation led by medicine, into a pro-active awakening stance of collective healing wisdom. A paradigm shift from, "out-side in, " to "in-side out." Healing led by active listening, becoming present to the "presence of the moment," connecting as one through prayer, meditation, music, exercise, yoga, dance, singing and role playing. Finding therapeutic ways to use the sounds and smells of nature to create bridges from the past to the present by surrounding people with beautiful plants, trees, friendly pets and colorful landscapes. Offering healthy choices in purified water and air. Prolonging healthy living through whole food organic nutrition, social interaction and through the most potent, and primal connection of all, the power of touch.

 Leading us from past to present into the hidden passageways of elder wisdom and healthy aging is one woman, Naomi Feil, MSW. Naomi Feil was born in Germany in 1932, and grew up as a child in a home for the aged where her father was the administrator, and her mother was the social worker.  After graduating from Columbia University in the 1960's and getting fed up with the traditional ways of communicating with very old, disoriented people, Ms. Feil developed her own therapeutic model called Validation. Validation is used to enhance dignity, reduce stress, and improve well-being.

 Validation theory, which borrows from psychology ( Carl Rogers, Erik Erikson, Sigmund Freud),  NLP and Akido (going with the flow),  explains that with an empathetic attitude, if one can, "step into the shoes," of another human being, and "see through their eyes," then it is possible to understand the sometimes, bizarre behaviors of very old disoriented individuals. And the basic premise of this model is that if we as individuals spend our lives suppressing our strong emotions, and never work out what we need to work out as things come up for us when we are younger, then these strong emotions, (ie: anger, hate, greed, love, passion or jealousy, to name a few), will dramatically be expressed in old age.  As Naomi Feil, MSW, explained this last week in Atlanta in a workshop of hers that I attended she said this: "The most important principle in "Validation," is: When you swallow strong emotions, they come out strong in old age!"  She also explained that there is ALWAYS a reason for bizarre behavior, and by knowing someone's life history, it is possible to use techniques to lessen anxiety when these strong emotions are triggered, and to create a better quality of life. Using Validation communication as it is intended to be used, according to Ms. Feil, causes the sleeping brain cells to wake up, and the old person never becomes a sleeping dead person.

I truly believe Validation is a VERY IMPORTANT step that humanity must take, in order to understand a rite of passage that brings with it, wisdom, truth, love and surrender as a pathway into a higher level of being. This can only be found by crossing the bridge that leaves limitations, judgement, control, separation, and fear behind. We can then embrace our highest good of living a quality life well into our elder years and leave this world ( when we are called to go), surrounded by loving support, peace, understanding, contentment and dignity.

For more information on Validation go to: www.vfvalidation.org

Copyright 2014 Caregivers Get Fit! Mama  Nicey

The information in this blog is information. It is not meant to be a replacement for getting medical advice from your own health professional regarding your own individual health challenge or condition. Dr. Denise will not diagnose, treat, or give direct personal consultations/advice to you on this blog for any medical condition, but will give general examples, and scientific research on many different health topics.  How you decide to use the information is between you and your own medical/ health professional.

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