Dementia, Bruce Lee & Conservation of Energy


The law of conservation of energy states that in a closed system, energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed.

Energy flows through every interaction, engagement or conversation between people; in everyday life, mostly there is a give and take, a volley of information, movement, listening and talking, acknowledgment and respect. This flow can be disrupted when a person is confused, resulting in an imbalance.

When all people inhabit a similar reality, the flow is relatively easy, although there are times when it is challenged, for example, during political or social unrest. In our sophisticated Western society this is rare – it is however more common when perception is distorted by disease processes such as delirium and dementia.

When my reality is so very different to that of another, the flow can be disrupted, there can be conflict and escalation, which, if not managed expertly, can result in disagreement and argument.

For example

Patient: I want to go home

Carer: You can’t go home, you are in hospital

Patient: I am fine, I want to go home, let me out of here

Carer: You can’t go home, please don’t get up; sit down, calm down, don’t do that!

Patient: I am going home; get out of my way!

Carer to other carer: Help!



Patient: I want to go home

Carer: Where do you live?



Patient: I want to go home

Carer: Shall I see if transport is available?



Patient: I want to go home

Carer: Let me sort that, would you like a cup of tea?


The Martial Arts…

These two different styles reflect the law of conservation of energy; they also represent two forms of Martial Arts – the ‘soft’ and the ‘hard’ –

The hard – Karate, Tae Kwon Do and Thai Boxing are characterized by a movement of energy that collides and clashes, sometimes with injury to one or both partners.

Soft forms – Judo, Jujitsu and Tai Chi allow for the movement of energy, for the force of one to move fluidly, to pass-by without challenge or obstruction.

Bruce Lee described this as being like a sapling – being flexible, able to bend with the wind, as opposed to a stiff branch that while strong, risks snapping in similar conditions.

Allowing energy to flow, when we interact with our patients and particularly those who perceive the world differently to us can allow for a safer, more harmonious environment and care relationship.


Published by rodkersh1948

Trying to understand the world, one emotion at a time.

5 thoughts on “Dementia, Bruce Lee & Conservation of Energy

  1. Reblogged this on almondemotion and commented:

    I am re-blogging this today as after a day in the hospital I felt it was something that needed to be revisited.
    Why is it that I see an old man or woman as afraid – terrified, when someone else sees them as aggressive and violent?
    Sure, I am not a nurse or healthcare assistant – I am not trying to help the person wash or dress – potentially against their will or understanding, but, it is amazing the effect that approach can have; so many people have moved to Mallard Ward over the years with the ‘aggressive & violent’ label attached (yes, frail, old folk, who sometimes can slap and punch), and within minutes of a changed approach – non-confrontational, supportive, caring – loving, they are reduced to humour and calm.
    Use the energy – take hold and help it move you in the direction of care, support and understanding – have a laugh; smile, joke about the absurdity of life. Energy flowing and moving through the system; that is care.


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