So, what do we do when a person, say a ninety-year-old woman is climbing on a window ledge, at risk of falling, or hitting you with a telephone or pouring water over your PC?
What do you do when you have tried to talk, tried to communicate as best you are able?
This is when we employ the art that is dementia care. First we must realise that the reality we are experiencing is likely very different from that of the other and secondly, that trying to manage the person, or control them, on our terms if likely to fail.
Entering into the world of the other is not however enough; we must also look at the energy.
Where is the energy flowing, where is it directed? The only way to avoid a clash of emotion, a physical collision is to allow the energy to flow, to move with a fluidity, like the wind, like water, and here, I borrow again from Bruce Lee – ‘Be flexible like a sapling, bend’
If we approach the person, the patient, the relative, the other with fixed ideas, with an entrenched sense of how things should be, we are likely to struggle; we risk a snapping.
When opposing energies collide, the resultant force is often additive – two wills, two directions.
When one of the energies accompanies the other, walks in their shoes, walks the same way, the energy can be directed, the energy flow maintained so that it dissipates naturally.
This is the way with the Tao. If we step in to the reality of the other and steer them away from the broken plates, away from the smashed glass, coax and encourage, we have a far greater chance of success, of allowing the moment to pass, allowing the storm to settle and other events to overtake.
We must however be sensitive to the intentions of the other, for the person who is confused, intervening too late can often result in us not being able to apply adequate influence; that is being Mindful – being aware, being in tune with the comings and goings of the other’s thoughts and impulses.