Supporting the Elderly… and the Ripple Effect

by Mary-Louise Myers

Whilst being a student of Universal Medicine I was employed by Tweed Valley Respite Service to be part of a team involved with a ”Care 4 U Holiday Program”. This was a government funded innovative program whereby elderly carers who cared for their partners with dementia were brought together in a holiday setting to have a rest, get support in the way of legal and financial advice, be updated on what assistance was available through different government agencies and get support for their wellbeing. I ran the groups to give them support for their general wellbeing and gave them individual hands on Esoteric Healing sessions. I would present a two hour group when they first arrived and another at the end of their stay.

Many of you may know how difficult it is to watch your loved one go down the path of dementia. It can be very painful and stressful to see the person you love not only get sick but also lose all memory of their relationship and their life with you. I would be fronted with a group of very elderly men and women (who mostly needed to be cared for themselves!!) that were more often than not very stressed, exhausted, depressed and confused as to why this was happening to them and their partners.

In these groups I introduced what I had learnt from Universal Medicine.

One of the techniques that supported them enormously was the gentle breath meditation, which is to close your eyes, be with yourself and begin to gently breathe in and out through your nose. I suggested that they do this in the morning and evening for 5 – 10 minutes and any time through the day when they felt to. I explained that this would enable them to begin to re-connect with themselves. And with this new found connection they would not react so much to their partners nor take on their emotional state.

Now a lot of these elderly people had been through the war or were farmers that had worked on the land all their lives, very down to earth people; so you can imagine when I first presented them with this technique that they were a bit sceptical. I would ask them to give it a go before they passed judgment on it and given it was only a short time it was realistic. Every time, and I mean every time, after they gave it a go they were amazed at how different they felt. They also found that in the ensuing week they did not take on their partners’ emotional state as easily as they had been and they were responding to difficult situations rather then getting all stressed and reactive.

For example, one elderly man would get upset, frustrated and angry every time his wife, who used to dress beautifully before she got dementia, would come out of her room with three pairs of underpants over her trousers and her tops on back to front etc. He learnt through this breathing technique to stay with himself, not react or get angry with her but simply let her be and encourage her to take the underpants off. He began to feel that the way he used to react was there to avoid his own pain of seeing and feeling how much his wife was not the same woman he had once married. Once he recognised this he was able to little bit by little bit feel his own pain, let it go and accept the illness his wife had. This is a major issue with a lot of the partners: they find it very difficult to accept that their partner has dementia and then they react to most of their behaviours, but once they start to accept it is much easier for them to deal with what comes up day to day. Another example is one woman who would always feel sad when her husband was sad and with being connected to her self she did not take on his sadness but remained with how she felt. And all this learning from a simple 5-10 minute meditation!

One of the other things that I had learnt from Universal Medicine and that I then introduced to these carers is that if you cannot care or nurture yourself then you are unable to truly care or nurture another. This again was a new thing to them, because most had been brought up being told “they were selfish” if they were to do something for themselves or that “you need to look after your sisters or brothers “, etc. So once I explained this principle it made sense to them but of course, a lifelong habit of putting everyone else first was hard to break, so I gave them some practical examples of how they could start to care for themselves. For example, having some time in the morning to go for a walk or some activity just for themselves before they started the day caring for their partner. You may think this is common sense and it is, but again, most of these elderly people had never learnt to put themselves first (nor had I until I came to Universal Medicine). They learnt that by doing this the quality of their care for their partners greatly improved.

I know that over the six years that I was part of this holiday program, these simple tools transformed many of their lives enormously. Not only did many carers share with me in the follow-up group before they left the program what a difference the breathing technique and other tools I had introduced had already made in their life, but I would see many of them in the ensuing years and the changes that they had put into place were truly inspiring.

During this time I witnessed that the support staff and management of the Care 4 U Holiday Program were also very stressed and again putting the needs of those they cared for before their own. Their own health and wellbeing were suffering because of this and so I started running groups for the staff of the Care 4 U Holiday Program, who also greatly benefitted and in turn started to change the way they worked. They got to experience that if they nurtured and cared for themselves first, they had more energy and a greater quality of care for their clients.

What I presented was common sense as are the teachings of Universal Medicine – very practical, down to earth and it works. And not only does it work, but it actually transforms people’s lives. In this instance, the carers, their partners and family benefitted greatly from these teachings as well as the support staff, their clients and their own families as they were no longer going home stressed and in reaction to their day.

95 thoughts on “Supporting the Elderly… and the Ripple Effect

  1. We never learn that taking on the emotions of others is actually really harming to us. I work in health and this is never presented. This is one of the simple teaching presented by Universal Medicine and the Gentle Breath Meditation supports this, so that we can stay with ourselves and simply observe what is going on for another rather than taking it on. Superbly simple and profound at the the same time.

    1. We can become really ill by absorbing another’s emotions, it is very harming to ourselves; which is why observing what is going on for another is more healing for all.

  2. Taking on other people’s emotions and issues is physically draining and exhausting. It is something I have to be aware of all of the time as it has been a long held behaviour of mine. Making loving choices such as going for a walk, having a rest in the day, going to bed by 9pm and eating foods that support me, help me enormously to not react but also help me to understand and read what is going on.

    1. Same for me Caroline, I too have found if I take better care of myself by nurturing and listening to my body I am less likely to react to people and situations. It is a huge support to first look after ourselves because to try and do it the other way round simply leaves me feeling absolutely exhausted.

    2. So true and I definitely have more space to support others because I know I have supported myself so I am offering support from a full glass rather than an empty one.

    3. What I am also becoming aware of is making the choice to be with myself when I feel the emotions of others. I call it out usually to myself and observe, offering space to another to face or not to face what is coming up for them. I am finding that because I choose to observe allowing myself to read and not go into sympathy I do not take on another’s emotions.

      1. Beautiful Caroline, I am learning what you share, to not get involved in situations and offer space to another whilst just observing and reading.

  3. It’s wonderful to hear about the positive effects of the Universal Medicine tools on the elder carers. I have also found everything that Universal Medicine presents as very simple, practical and applicable to all parts of life. The Universal Medicine tools could be easily used by anyone, from the very young upwards, and across every walk of life.

  4. A healthy society cares for everyone equally and thus I feel the ongoing support of all carers in the community is not only essential but an actual extension of the health care system itself. Every home carer should have access to a support program like the one you contributed to Mary-Louise for to nourish the health of all equally has an enormous ripple effect on everyone.

  5. My father spent the last 3 years of his life with dementia and shut away in a geriatric unit in the local hospital so I am familiar with the stresses and strains this comes with; I have no doubt that we all could have benefited so much from being introduced to the Gentle Breath Meditation. I know what a powerful effect it has had in my life and for you to have brought it into aged and dementia care is such a great gift for everyone Mary-Louise, none more so than the staff who, in my experience, all go the extra mile to ensure the care of the patients, but unfortunately taking on a lot of stress in the process. This very simple but amazing meditation needs to be in all hospitals and other nursing facilities; what a difference it would make to the well being of all.

  6. What a truly incredible program to support and ultimately transform peoples lives. The power of the Gentle Breath Meditation has shown itself to be an invaluable tool over and over again in allowing people to build a steadiness in life to face whatever may be thrown at you. It is an absolute blessing and a gift to know and use.

  7. It’s heart warming to feel just how supportive and profound the Gentle Breath Meditation has been for those you’ve introduced it to Mary-Louise and the difference it’s made to the way they are with themselves in what are very difficult situations. This is a very inspiring and a testament to the way of living that’s presented by Universal Medicine.

  8. What you share here Mary Louise is very supportive and inspiring for anyone who is a carer and the flow on effect when we begin to truly care for ourselves does inspire others to make choices that are more loving as well. Since I have been deepening my own self-care I have watched my young daughter starting to moisturise her body and put hand cream on before she goes to bed, it is beautiful to watch a 7 year old choose this for herself and the care and quality in how she does it warms my heart.

  9. Great to read a ‘success’ story in the world of dementia. The Gentle Breath Meditation is a magical first step in self-nurturing. It supports us in feeling the love that we are and with this connection we can connect to the love within another whatever the manifestations of a disease like dementia.

  10. How amazing that a simple 5 to 10 minute meditation can change all those reactive situations and have people respond in a calm and less sorrowful way. There are many emotions surrounding having a partner with dementia. Many people take it personally because they feel abandoned and have lost their partner but gained a full time difficult job. It’s beautiful to see how effective these techniques can be and how they support people.

  11. It just seems like common sense to care for yourself first and then you are in better shape to care for another. We could teach this rather that telling children that they are selfish because they didn’t hop to it when our plans are announced and instead aren’t following their own ideas. There must be a way of respecting one another’s rhythms and to still get things done. Perhaps we could communicate more about the things we hope could happen so that there is more that we offer one another, supporting each other’s self care and still working together.

  12. I had all kinds of reactions when my close family member was diagnosed with Alzheimers. Gentle Breath Meditation has been a great supporting tool for me to stay detached while observing others and their choices.

  13. This is a great example of how the gentle breath meditation can support every day well being. I have found that it has supported a reconnection within me and I have taken time to practice the technique when I am feeling agitated or stressed. It is now becoming part of my day to breath gently and I find that it deeply supports the quality that I approach and live life.

  14. An amazing blog to read Mary-Louise, a simple 5 – 10 minute meditation making such a huge difference to the carers. I know from my own experience how powerful the Gentle Breath Meditation is, in bringing connection back to self. A huge gift you have given these people from Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine, who share everything to help humanity take greater care of themselves.

  15. It is very true Mary-Louise that you cannot truly and loving care for another if you don’t truly and loving care for yourself first. What you shared with these elderly couples has allowed them to bring more love and understanding into their lives allowing them to be more of themselves. With this they can truly then offer the support and loving care that is needed for their partner. This is powerful evidence of how The Gentle Breath Meditation can change lives by reducing stress and anxiety as you re-connect to your stillness within, presenting a marker as you feel who you actually are. Very inspiring and very beautiful.

  16. I have found by performing the gentle breath meditation my anxiety level is so much lower and it has also helped in the way I relate to others.

  17. Lovely down to earth blog with great examples of the effects of the simple techniques of Universal Medicine. Simple, practical yet life changing for all us.

  18. truly inspiring and down to earth Mary-Louise. incredible to hear about what you have presented to the group. It was cool to hear about how by doing the gentle breath meditation the carers where able to look at their hurts instead of taking it out on others.

  19. We are truly inter-connected, everyone affects those around him, our quality is expressed and reflected in everything that we do. Of course it makes a lot of sense then to wisely choose and care for the way we feel. The Gentle Breath Meditation is a most simple and effective tool for everyone to make use of all the time and as we all know how emotions affect our breathing pattern we can choose a kind of breath that affects our emotional state of being. If you like to give it a go you can find free audio downloads with instructions of how to do it here:

  20. Thank you Mary Louise for sharing this great insight, the gentle breath meditation is so simple but so powerful a gift from heaven wow what would happen to our lives if we were taught that first we were to be who we are then take that to all we do into our day in the openness and love we are.

  21. Thanks Mary-Louise it is inspiring to hear how such introducing these simple tools changed peoples lives so profoundly.

  22. What a wonderful program you describe Mary-Louise! What you have offered is a priceless gift to these carers. Just as you say Mary-Louise, carers frequently feel guilty if they do anything to care for themselves and so they can become angry, frustrated, stressed and burnt out to the point that it isn’t uncommon for them to pre-decease the patient. I would love to see more support of the kind you have offered made available for carers everywhere, regardless of their age.

  23. This is such a great sharing of the power of such a simple technique. It is so beautiful that you could offer them such a simple yet profound tool to support them with the challenges they face

  24. Re-reading this blog makes me recognise the power of our choices. The techniques you describe Mary-Louise are simple, yet offer so much as they reconnect us to who we truly are. Having experienced many of these techniques I can vouch for the fact that they bring to me a connection to my own inner stillness and that deep within me is this unshakeable sense of solidness. No matter what, I know this is the truth of who I am.

  25. It was lovely to read how simply you were able to connect to these carers and enable them to support themselves at a time in their life when so many have given up on life. It goes to show that its never too late to learn a more self-loving way to live life.

  26. Wow, this is pretty amazing Mary-Louise, how such simple techniques as the gentle breath meditation and learning to truly care for yourself before you can care for another can have such an impact on their lives. So great that you got to share this with them, it should be taught everywhere!

  27. This was lovely to read Mary Louise. I felt supported and cared for just by reading this article. Thank you.

  28. The gentle breath meditation is an absolute god send to all that learn it. The ‘ripple effect’ of been taught the gentle breath meditation and the fact that it is important to care and nurture yourself before another that you shared with those who attended the Care 4 U Holiday Program would of been absolute gold and transformed how they were living and coping with the challenges of their every day life. Awesome Mary-Louise. Just plain awesome.

  29. Universal Medicine teachings change lives for the good and support people in distress if they choose to be open and give it a go. I know this for a fact. What we get through Universal Medicine is nothing short of awesome.

  30. Awesome sharing Mary-Louise! I love the simplicity yet the effectiveness – and what you share is relevant to all of us, no matter what age or background. I know for myself that the gentle breath has been such an amazing part of transforming my life, not to mention learning to take better care of myself and finding those moments in each day to nurture myself so that I can then be there for others too in a far greater capacity. It is a true blessing we give ourselves when we implement such simple and beautiful things into our life.

  31. Mary-Louise what you have taught these carers and the staff sound like practises that could be taught as part of an ongoing support for all in these situations and work places . I have to keep reminding myself to do the Gentle Breath Meditation and it makes a difference every time. It is lovely to hear of the difference it made and is still making to the lives of these people.

  32. “If you cannot care or nurture yourself then you are unable to truly care or nurture another.” the level of care we give ourselves is reflected in all our relationships. I have worked a lot in my career supporting others. I have offered the best care and support when I have been looking after myself and take responsibility for myself. This ability to support and care for others has increased as I continue to take more responsibility for my own self care and self love. It is a beautiful reflection in life and continues to expand.

  33. Great work Mary-Louise. As always, its the simple things in life that have the most profound effects. The Gentle Breath Meditation is probably the simplest thing we can do but has the potential to change peoples lives, as you have clearly demonstrated.

  34. Thanks for sharing about this beautiful support that you were able to deliver! The techniques and methods from Universal Medicine are so simple yet the difference they make to people’s lives are profound.

  35. The Gentle Breath Meditation is so simple yet so profound. When I and my wife were introduced to it it had a dramatic impact upon our lives and relationship in the way that is expressed here by Marie-Louise. Similarly with the self-care – such common sense but we are not brought to put ourselves first in a true loving way.

  36. Thank you Mary-Louise for sharing this. It is so inspiring that two very simple concepts can make such an enormous difference to our lives. I have found the Gentle Breath Meditation brings me back to me and allows me to let go of any anxiety that is confronting me and also introducing self-nurturing and caring for myself so that I am ready to care for others allows me to appreciate myself and not get exhausted.

  37. Very Inspiring to read of the much needed support you offered to the elderly carers, and the effect this had, both on them and all those around them.

  38. A great example of how using a simple technique in such a simple way can support these people. It would be amazing if all health care workers were aware of this valuable tool.

  39. Awesome, thank you for sharing. A very inspiring practical account of how much the tools we have learnt through Universal Medicine, can really make a difference – to everyone and anyone whoever they are. Also the beautiful reminder that in taking care of ourselves before we doing things/caring for others also really makes a difference. I love the gentle ripple effect that your account shows – and how many peoples lives we do actually affect as an inspiration, and on a practical basis.

  40. This is beautiful. What a lovely description of how many people just need a gentle nudge in the direction of self-care to make such a huge difference in their life no matter how young or old.

    1. I agree – what I loved about this article was it showed we’re never too old to make a change and care for ourselves deeper, and that really we all want to live this way – we’re just not sure how, or if it’s ok and not selfish to introduce this deeper level of self care.

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