Dementia is a cruel disease. It robs us of our control over our body and it takes away from us the most valuable thing a human can have: the memory. Memory of dear people, of beautiful moments, of successes and defeats, of homes and homeland, of everything that was ever important to us. People who suffer from dementia are often terrified of the no-man’s-land that awaits them when all memories have disappeared. How this fear feels like is described in this poem of an affected person.
“In the head are black clouds, thinking is so difficult.
I can not talk, do things, soon also walking.
Please stay with me, give me your hand.
Do not leave me alone in the unknown country.
Sing songs with me, do what I like,
because I am still part of this world.“
Dementia is defined by a progressive decline and loss of cognitive functions such as thinking, speaking, arithmetics, orientation, conception, learning and language. These losses mean that everyday activities can no longer be carried out independently.
Dementia patients have an increased risk of illness and a shortened life expectancy. The increasing change in the patients, the occurrence of possible mental and behavioral symptoms, as well as the nursing measures also lead to a high emotional and physical burden to the relatives. The severe stage of dementia is characterized by complete helplessness and dependence on the environment.
A monstrous challenge
According to an estimate by the Swiss Alzheimer’s Association, around 110,000 people with dementia currently live in Switzerland. The probability of developing dementia increases significantly with age. Due to a change in the age structure of the Swiss population, more and more patients will suffer from dementia in the coming decades.
“At the present time, dementia is not curable.”
Behind these hard facts is a human being
It is very likely that you know people around you who have dementia, maybe even as a relative you have had this painful experience. I myself had to watch this as my dad suffered from dementia in his last years and how difficult the handling of this situation was for all of us.
Effects of dementia are very diverse for example because of disease-related brain performance disorder, in which the memory and the ability to think decrease, and the people are – depending on the stage of disease – significantly impaired in everyday life up to to severely needing care.
But we must also ask ourselves where the dignity remains of a person suffering from dementia.
According to reports, about 50 percent of people with dementia in nursing homes are treated with a cocktail of neuroleptics and other psychotropic drugs, although these have serious side effects, especially in the elderly. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency are warning against the misguided use of these substances.
And further; the use of neuroleptics in dementia patients should lead to increased mortality. A published American study highlights the problem of off-label use and points to relevant differences in the potential dangers of different neuroleptics. In practice, these data are largely ignored. Neuroleptics are used in dementia – without proper approval – on a large scale against aggressiveness and inner turmoil as well as nocturnal wanderings. Critics argue that neuroleptics are used to combat problematic behavior in order to facilitate care for the staff and to compensate for the actual problem of nursing care.
In this malady we recognize the implications of the unresolved “problem”. The therapy and care of dementia patients and the support of their relatives has little space in a world defined by performance and profitability, in a world where things are different from what they seem.
Those affected belong to the human family. They are well aware of their illness.
“What’s wrong with me, I do not know my way around,
What should I do here in this strange house?
I scream around, loud, angry.
Here comes this stranger and says: Everything will be fine.
Who is this woman, I do not know her
and angrily, I try to hit her face.
She just looks at me sadly and says:
Everything will be alright, you’re my husband.”
(Author: B. Weilke)
Thankfully, today there are more and more institutions and professionally trained staff doing an excellent job and doing their best to master the difficult situation. I can warmly advise all those affected to use a suitable offer as early as possible and to take help early on.
Alternatively considered: Lao nian xing chi dai
Traditional Chinese medicine makes no distinction between Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. The symptoms of dementia fall into the category of lao nian xing chi dai and are often associated with renal deficiency and a weakening of the medulla, spleen, liver, which leads to the formation of internal mucus and internal moisture, rising liver yang, blood and / or mucus stagnation and the related toxicity.
All of these factors lead to the loss of brain nutrition, which is also attacked by other negative influences, such as the chemical substance revenues described above. Unfortunately, these toxic substances can further increase the depressive mood, the feeling of loneliness and the lack of vitality.
As we have heard, an old person may have left the hectic, market-oriented society. Dementia is therefore not only a “medical” problem, it is also an expression where we move socially.
“It’s morning, I wake up.
I look in the mirror
and notice a change.
Nothing is more,
as it was yesterday!
What will be tomorrow?
The door opens,
a woman comes in
I think for a moment,
Who could it be?
What will be tomorrow
The woman says:
“Good Morning sweetheart!”
I’m just wondering
what is this?
Fear comes over me.
How will it go on?
Things that were familiar to me,
are suddenly so strange.
The woman is still there,
I am so inhibited.
What else will happen?»
Options and therapy suggestions
These are based on the severity of the disease and can basically be divided into the following three stages.
1. Stagnation of Energy Qi QI ZHI and blood blockage YU XUE
This corresponds to the stage of mild dementia and is characterized by forgetfulness, relocation of objects, mistrust, memory disorders, depressive symptoms, anxiety and aggressiveness, loss of interest in hobbies, personality change.
2. Lack of energy Qi and blood QI / XUE XU with the blood blockage YU XUE
This corresponds to the stage of middle dementia and is characterized by disorders of judgment, deepening of personality changes, inability to perform usual activities such as cooking and shopping, difficult communication, wandering, delusions, states of confusion.
3. Stagnation of mucus TAN with the blood blockage YU XUE
This corresponds to the stage of severe dementia and is characterized by disturbance of food intake, failure to recognize the related persons, loss of ability of coherent speech, states of great confusion, disorders of urine and stool excretion, full loss of self-sufficiency, confinement to the wheelchair, physical and mental deterioration, emaciation, death.
In the first two stages, many of the therapies known to us can be used and provide relief. The principle is that the sooner and more intensively the therapy applications take place, the more sustainable influencing the course of the disease can be. As the disease progresses, most therapies are less and less effective. Now, the loving care and care of patients come first, which is also the biggest challenge.
Here it is also for the relatives particularly painful and physically exhausting, if their loved ones lose more and more the personality because of the disease. Therefore, relatives must be included in the therapy concept, otherwise that they are also in danger to become sick.
“Grab my hand and walk with me down the street of memory. Visit the places that connected us when life was still a game.
Our big day in church when we both said yes to each other.
How easy parenting was suddenly, after baby number two.
Remember how firmly I held you to free you from your fears.
The strength we gave ourselves shared only by soulmates!The sun fades too fast and the world turns gray. The cruel world of dementia takes me away.
The beauty of your face disappears and your eyes lose their shine. Do you also see all those memories? Or are they just shadows in the darkness? ”
I use these four medicinal mushrooms
In Hericium, scientists have identified specific ingredients, erinacins, that stimulate the nerve growth factor. This may assist the regeneration of peripheral nerves in neuronal diseases and be of general use in the treatment of neurological disorders. In TCM, the Hericium is considered Shen mushroom. It has a soothing and balancing effect and has a mood-enhancing effect. Hericium tonifies the spleen.
Erinacin A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorates Alzheimer’s disease-related pathologies in APPswe / PS1dE9 transgenic mice.
Abstract Source: J Biomed Sci. 2016 Jun 27; 23 (1): 49. Epub 2016 Jun 27.
This vital mushroom, which is considered a fountain of youth in Asia, is particularly rich in minerals, amino acids, vitamins and secondary ingredients in a balanced combination and best bioavailability for the human organism. He thus promotes physical and mental performance into old age. In TCM, the intake of Reishi should clarify the mind, because the cloudy sink and the pure can ascend. It also helps with rising liver yang and has a calming effect.
Effect of Ganoderma Lucidum Preparation on the Behavior, Biochemistry, and Autoimmune Parameters of Mouse Models of APP / PS1 Double Transgenic Alzheimer’s Disease.
Abstract Source: Zhongguo Yi Xue Ke Xue Yuan Xue Bao. 2017 Jun 20; 39 (3): 330-335.
The circulation-promoting and microcirculation-stimulating property of Auricularia may have a positive effect on dementia. In TCM, it is considered a blood activator and helps to prevent blood stagnation. In addition, Auricularia tonifies blood and nourishes Shen in his activities.
Purified Auricularia auricula-judae polysaccharide (AAP 1-a) prevents oxidative stress in the anhydrous mouse model, Carbohydrate Polymers 84
Abstract Source: Zhang H. et al. (2010)
Cordyceps sinensis is the vital mushroom for the gentle, but sustainable increase in performance, which can provide both on the physical and mental-spiritual level freshness and stamina. In scientific studies, in addition to general immune-enhancing effects, the increase in mitochondrial ATP formation and thus improved energy production at the cellular level could be detected, which also has a positive effect on dementia disorders. In TCM, Cordyceps tonifies the jing of the kidneys and replenishes the sea of the marrow. He is also considered Shen mushroom, which makes the mind awake and clear by dissolving phlegm. Cordyceps sinensis can also cause the excretion of toxins.
Antiaging effect of Cordyceps sinensis extract.
Abstract Source: Phytother Res. 2009 Jan; 23 (1): 1-5.
The soul remains, even when the mind is silent
The moment will come when our therapeutic possibilities are exhausted. We will wonder where the person has been we knew so well. A normal relationship is no longer possible. We are desperate and do not know how to continue. Maybe we think about giving up.
Read this letter from a woman with dementia found in her estate after her death:
“What do you see, sister, when you look at me and what do you think? “A bony old woman” with an absent look, no longer quite sane, who does not know how to behave and making a mess, does not answer, when you say in your loud voice that she should at least try a little bit of effort, who does not seem to pay attention to what you do, who loses a stocking here and there a shoe, and despite all admonitions does not help when bathed or fed.
If you see and think that, sister, you’re wrong. That’s not me, who sits there so quiet, and who gets up and eats at your behest. Open your eyes, I tell you who I am:
I am a child of 10 with a father and a mother and brothers and sisters who love each other. A young girl of 16 with wings on her feet, who dreams of meeting her true love soon. A bride of 20, my heart leaps with joy when I think of the vows I promised to keep. At the age of 25, I have children of my own, for whom I build a safe, happy home. A woman of 30, my children are growing fast, connected by loyal bonds.
At 40, my sons are gone, but at my side is my husband and supports me. At 50, I have children playing with me again. We have grandchildren, my love and me.
Then dark days come, my husband dies, I look with fear into the future, because my children are going to build their own home. I think of the years and the love I have experienced.
I am an old woman now, nature is very cruel. She has come up with the idea of making old people look like fools. The body disintegrates, grace and strength disappear, where once a heart was, is now a stone.
But in this old frame lives a still young girl, and every now and then my broken heart swells.
I think back to the joy and the pain, and I love and live life again, and remember the years, far too short and too fast passed by and accept the bitter fact that nothing remains.
So open your eyes, SISTER, and do not see an old, scratchy woman, look at me !!!“
Here our best sense could help. It is the space in our hearts that can expand to encompass all of this. Perhaps it is a kind of silent presence that restores the lack of dignity and reconciles us to what has remained.