Supporting the Elderly… and the Ripple Effect

by Mary-Louise Myers, Esoteric Practitioner, Goonallabah NSW

From 2003 through 2009 I worked in a program designed to ‘Care for Carers’. This was an innovative program whereby elderly full-time carers who looked after partners with dementia were brought together in a holiday setting to have a rest, obtain support in the way of legal and financial advice, be updated on what assistance was available through different government agencies, and receive support for their wellbeing. I ran groups that offered them support for their general wellbeing and I also offered 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. The second group  gave them an opportunity to share the changes that they had already put in place and get any further support if needed before they went back home.

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 confronted with a group of very elderly men and women (who mostly needed to be cared for themselves!!), who were more often than not very stressed, exhausted, depressed and confused as to why this was happening to them and their partners.

A few years into running these groups I shared a simple 10 minute meditation technique that I learned at a Universal Medicine course.

This short meditation, called the ‘gentle breath meditation’, supported them enormously. The technique calls on you to close your eyes, be present with yourself, and then 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 at any time through the day when they felt to, explaining that this would enable them to begin to re-connect with themselves; and with this newfound 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 somewhat 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 for them to try. 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 partner’s emotional state as easily as they had been, and they were responding to difficult situations rather than 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 learned through this breathing technique to stay present 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, little bit by little bit, to 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 so they react to most of their behaviours… but once they start to accept the fact 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; after achieving connection with herself she did not take on his sadness but remained with how she felt. All this stemming from a simple 5-10 minute meditation!

Another thing I had learned from Universal Medicine and that I then shared with these carers was about the importance of caring for and nurturing yourself – in order to be able to truly care for and 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. 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 other 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 learned to put themselves first (nor had I until I came to UniMed). They learnt that by doing this the quality of their care for their partners greatly improved.

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 lives, 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 observed that the support staff and management of the carers’ program were also very stressed, and again were putting the needs of those they cared for before their own. Their own health and wellbeing was suffering because of this, and so I started running groups for the staff of the program who also greatly benefitted, and in turn started to change the way they worked. They were able 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 shared was common sense; no different to the teachings of Universal Medicine, which presents very practical, down to earth tools that, if applied, really do work. And not only do they work, but they actually transform people’s lives. In this instance, the carers, their partners and their families benefitted greatly from these teachings, and so did the support staff, their clients and their own families as they were no longer going home stressed and in reaction to their day.

The changes in the people I worked with over the six years I was there were truly inspiring and a testament to their commitment to choosing to care for themselves, in seemingly simple ways, that nevertheless made big changes in their lives.

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

  1. I love how you shared the Gentle Breath Meditation with the elderly carers Mary-Louise, and how they could really feel the difference it made to their day and how they responded to the people they were caring for, this in its self is a miracle, such a simple technique that has profound and very tangible results….. “They also found that in the ensuing week they did not take on their partner’s emotional state as easily as they had been, and they were responding to difficult situations rather than getting all stressed and reactive. “

  2. The value of teaching self care to carers is still not fully accepted in the care industry, where greater emphasis us given to quality of care for others not self. Articles like this raise awareness and foster new understanding of the ripple effects of self care.

  3. Mary-Louise this is a beautifully presented piece on old age, the intricacies of supporting an elder who is ill or has dementia are many for carer and cared for. You show how at any age we can continue to learn news ways of being to support ourselves and in so doing support those we care for.

  4. It’s very common for people who care for others to neglect themselves, to the point they become ill themselves and sometimes die of illnesses triggered by self neglect. Training programmes for carers that do not consider the relationship with self miss this essential ingredient. The Gentle Breath Meditation is a simple tool and brings us present with ourselves in the here and now and away from focusing on what others are doing, but where we are. It re-settles the body when we lose balance. Learning to self care is the best medicine we can offer those we care for.

  5. Pure gold Mary-Louise – something so simple and yet life changing… you can feel that is Truth with a capital T because it lacks the trying and complication that so often comes when we are trying without understanding.

  6. How amazingly simple and accessible for all, and that’s the joy of Universal Medicine, and the techniques it shares, they make so much sense and they work and anyone can do them. I’ve learned so much from Universal Medicine and it’s changed my life to one where I now more deeply care for myself and in turn others. We can all live with greater care firstly for us and then naturally it’s also there for the rest.

  7. What a blessing for these carers, many who would feel like they are all on their own and trying to process huge and difficult changes in their lives. It emulates the ripple effect of Universal Medicine beautifully. The same goes for parents, if we care for ourselves first we are more available and ready for whatever happens in a day with our children, but when we jump into things we don’t need to and take them on, every little thing that happens feels like it is massive and insurmountable.

  8. I couldn’t agree more that Universal Medicine presents “…very practical, down to earth tools that, if applied, really do work. And not only do they work, but they actually transform people’s lives.”

  9. In the supermarket where I work I meet elderly gentlemen that are caring for their wives and you can see how they don’t really look after themselves and if I ask them if they take time for themselves they say no they don’t have the time, so I always make sure I give them as much time as possible when they are with me to chat and enjoy a few moments.

  10. “Once he recognised this he was able, little bit by little bit, to feel his own pain, let it go, and accept the illness his wife had.” This is beautiful, Mary-Louise, we forget how much the carers are suffering and don’t feel able to look at their own feelings because all their attention is on the person they are supporting.

  11. The Gentle Breath Meditation is so simple and definitely worth a go like your clients found out. It is amazing how steadier we become when practising this technique.

  12. Inspiring to read about the changes taking place, not only with the carers but the relatives also. All too often I see the relatives of the patients with an illness suffering themselves and often display anger, resentment and frustration towards the person who has the illness. One gentleman told me that if he had known that his wife was going to get MS, he would not have married her. He felt trapped in a life that he felt he had not signed up for.

  13. This is such a great story and it shows that life need not to be complicated and that it is the littlest things for our own love and care that bring huge changes to ours lives.

  14. One of my favourite blogs to read because it highlights how practical and applicable to all the work of Universal Medicine is. Tools such as self care and the Gentle Breath Meditation can be taken into each persons life and offer a foundation for true change. The current model of how life is doesn’t work, yes we can survive and function in it but it’s so very limiting. I feel that Serge Benhayon gets attacked because he challenges how life is and offers another model based on a true way which actually does work. My life, and the lives of many others in the Universal Medicine student body attest to that.

  15. All the support and advice from Universal Medicine is always practical and common sense, as this sharing demonstrates, and can bring life changing-results.

  16. Great sharing, Mary-Louise, of the effectiveness of The Gentle Breath Meditation. For me it has been an immeasurable support in my life

  17. I agree – Gentle Breath Meditation is so simple and easy, and it is that simple and easy that we often overlook and take for granted. Choosing to breathe our own breath is so powerful and reminds us what it is like to be connected with our true essence while doing life.

  18. Such a great example of the fact that carers need caring for too, especially those that are in the latter years of their lives. Caring for someone can be very stressful at any age but caring for someone close to you who is losing their mental faculties is incredibly challenging indeed. This wonderfully supportive program needs to be offered in every community as it would undeniably make a difference to so many lives

  19. Universal Medicine provides us with invaluable tools for life, to care and treat our bodies as something sacred as it is through our bodies we get to know we are so much more of what we have come to understand our true nature to be.

  20. Carers are frequently very exhausted if not totally run down. The Gentle Breath Meditation offers a simple and very practical tool to reconnect and start caring for themselves before they care for another/others. After all, care starts with self first.

  21. That really is inspiring. And I love how simple what you taught them was and yet it was still so profound. No bells, whistles or large sums of money need be exchanged when we keep things real. The best investment of all is the one we put in ourselves.

  22. When we accept, we are living in the present. We no longer are holding on to a picture from the past of how things were and face what there is to face supporting one another rather than getting caught up in our emotions. There is no doubt that when we are taking responsibility for our wellbeing to live in the present it has a knock on effect on those around us.

    1. This is a great reminder Caroline, for any stage of our lives. You hear most parents, including myself, talk about the past and how gorgeous, sweet and adorable their children were when they were babies and toddlers and how much they have changed now that they’re teenagers. I know for myself when I start down this road it takes me away from being present and seeing who is in front of me for who they are now, which in truth is all they have lived up to then anyway. There’s no need to look back and compare in our lives.

  23. Beautiful how effective the gentle breath meditation is, I loved how you allowed them the opportunity to reconnect with themselves and not take on the issues of their loved ones, but to simply observe what was happening.

  24. I had a conversation with an elderly friend recently about the importance of self-care and self-love. Their response was that to care for themselves first went against everything they had been taught in their lives. Being selfish, to the detriment of others in our lives is not what self-care and self-love is about. It is about honouring our own needs to care for and love ourselves as a foundation for our relationships and encounters with others. The alternative seems rather bizarre. Do we really expect people to neglect their own fundamental needs as a sort of self-sacrifice all for the sake of others? Surely it is pure common sense to look after ourselves and yes, love ourselves. Why not? Why would we choose to have anything other than loving relationships…including the relationship with ourselves?

    1. Richard it’s a great comment, thank you. It shows how invested we are in being good and if that means a belief to sacrifice ourselves for others then that is what we do, because it’s what we have been taught. We put our trust into what’s given to us as children, and we continue as adults to give our power away to beliefs and ideals even in the face of how ineffective and uncomfortable they are to live.

  25. When we breath our own breath we become aware just how much we have given our breath away, so to speak, for others or for situations happening around us. Beautiful to re-claim our breath for ourselves and not for any other.

  26. What a beautiful share Mary-Louise, a true service to the elderly. It is sad when people can get to the point where they can’t recognise their loved ones.

    I am thinking of introducing this simple Gentle Breath Meditation to my work environment – it is so simple, effective and can be done anywhere, as long as you’re not driving. I feel this to be part of a work’s daily environment. What an amazing gift from Universal Medicine.

  27. How inspiring yet what you have illustrated shows how bizarre it is that we are not taught the importance of self care before we care for another. It is the complete opposite of what is considered good, worthy and self-less. I would say that when we offer support to another when we are unable to adequately support ourselves, what we are offering comes with a level of resentment that is felt and not the love that we so desperately want to offer.

  28. It’s such a deeply ingrained behaviour to put others needs before our own needs, yet as you say when we nurture ourselves the quality of our care is even greater. For me this is an equality issue, that we ourselves deserve the same level of care and quality of life as everyone else.

  29. What Universal Medicine presents around self-care and self-love does truly work as you have shared here Mary-Louise, making more loving choices benefits us greatly but also provides a powerful reflection for others to feel inspired and supported by.

  30. Once we start to truly care for ourselves, much changes for us and everybody else around us; it is a true ripple effect that brings with it honesty and much needed answers instead of quick fix and solutions.

  31. Caring for carers is a great initiative. The quality a carer can provide can be preserved since it is of no value a carer that has no capacity to care. If carers cannot care, what happens to those they take care of?

  32. The Gentle Breath Meditation and a presentation on self nurturing are great tools to offer anyone . . .”The changes in the people I worked with over the six years I was there were truly inspiring and a testament to their commitment to choosing to care for themselves, in seemingly simple ways, that nevertheless made big changes in their lives.” . . . Beautiful Mary-Louise!

  33. Some simple tools to support people to live everyday, sounds great. We often look for huge change in an instant and are disappointed when that expectation isn’t met. Are these things like say saving for something? You don’t just wake up with a huge amount in your bank account but you get there by doing a little bit often. What I am saying here is that don’t have an expectation on how things should be but get support or at least start supporting yourself in the smaller things often. This consistency will bring or build over time and it becomes a natural part of your life. This article mentions some great support tips and the Gentle Breath Meditation is one of them. If you were to do this for a little time everyday it would make a huge difference. We often look as I said for something big to change how we are feeling but what if all we needed to do was support ourselves truly so we could deal with what was happening another way?

    1. True, lasting change happens slowly, through living and building a consistency everyday, Taking a few moments in each day to just stop and notice how I’m breathing has had a big effect, over time; less anxious, less overwhelmed, less reactive, more myself.

      1. Great and I agree and like anything we don’t stop there. Once you have it nailed and appreciate the “few moments” then build this into more moments and then before you know it this way of being will be just you naturally and the “few moments” will be all the other.

  34. What you offer us here is an amazing support for people in a very challenging situation. It is such a blessing to be given a tool that is so practical and gives you the space to feel who you are. I can’t imagine being in that situation and watching someone I love deteriorate in front of my eyes. We are not really made aware of how many people are affected by this condition.

  35. Mary-Louise, this is amazing, I can feel how lost we can get when we put others first and how if we re-connect to ourselves that we can not be affected by others and then are able to truly support ourselves and others, I have found and observed that it does not work if we put others first and do not care about ourselves.

  36. Beautiful Mary-Louise. Universal Medicine shares with us a way to live that offers joy and well-being in our everyday lives and it is then for us to share this with the world. It is a powerful ripple.

  37. Caring for another without caring for oneself is just impossible, but we’ve all tried it anyway. Considering how sicker and older the entire population all over the world seems to be getting, I reckon there are many programs around to support the carers, and what you have shared here is so inspiring and it’s just amazing how a very simple technique such as Gentle Breath Meditation can make a big difference. And I have a feeling that getting a taste of re-connecting with our true quality prepares us for the inevitable passing over of our loved ones, as well as our own.

    1. I hadn’t considered this Fumiyo. Re-connecting through the Gentle Breath Meditation supports us to feel more of the essence of who we all are, it stops the neediness and allows space for each of us to simply be. It has also supported me to know, from my body and not my head, that we are all connected way beyond the physical connection of our bodies, which has made that passing over process so much less traumatic.

  38. Mary-Louise, thank you for sharing this, ‘What I shared was common sense; no different to the teachings of Universal Medicine, which presents very practical, down to earth tools that, if applied, really do work. And not only do they work, but they actually transform people’s lives’, I agree, thanks to the presentations of Universal Medicine I have learnt some very practical tools that have been life changing for me. I love the simplicity of what is presented at these courses and workshops. The most life-changing things for me have been having rhythm in my life; going to bed early which feels amazing; not reacting to everything and everyone and taking things personally; feeling a love and acceptance for myself and seeing and feeling my own beauty – pretty amazing changes.

  39. I just love reading this blog and hearing of the changes that people made in their lives as a result of being supported to re-connect more and care more deeply for themselves. And what a ripple effect this has – radiating out to support all those around them too.

  40. This is fantastic, I know you have written a blog about it but wondered was there a survey or something done as well that measured these changes and although you are not running these groups anymore is someone else? With the GP’s, hospitals, clinics etc getting bogged down, stressed and financially bankrupt we desperately need things in place like this about true well-being, self-care, self-love and nurturing and …. this doesn’t cost a thing (or hardly anything) compared with the benefits that are seen. The templates Universal Medicine have with regards to self-care, palliative care, supporting cancer patients etc are truly amazing and are templates/models we can all use and put into place within our own communities.

  41. The benefits of the Gentle Breath Meditation in this story prove that true meditation is about connecting back to ourselves and not about going on a journey to anywhere via our mind, escaping in other words. And it also proves that there is absolutely no need to sit for hours on end and be uncomfortable which are all distracting from true connection.

  42. It is great to read how life changing something as simple as the Gentle Breath Meditation can be, it gives us an awareness of being able to observe and not react in life.

  43. The principles of Universal Medicine are so simple and easy to apply and can transform lives as you share here Mary-Louise. They really need to be shared much more widely as they truly work and thus benefit all.

  44. Beautiful Mary Louise, both in what you share and what you have taken to the community. I love the phrase “I would ask them to give it a go before they passed judgment on it”. What a simple suggestion.

  45. It is such a simple premise, care for yourself and the quality of care for another is better, and I agree Mary-Louise, it is one of many common sense practical tools that Universal Medicine has given me to go away and work on should I wish, and I found it has transformed how I live my life, certainly less reactive and more consistent in my day to day.

  46. Great sharing Mary-Louise – it shows how something so simple like the Gentle Breath Meditation, as presented by Universal Medicine, can be life changing. We are led to think we need to care of others 1st but as you say if we 1st do not take care of ourselves what state are we in and what quality of care do we then offer others?

  47. Great blog Mary-Louise, and inspiring to hear how introducing a few small, easy – and free – techniques supported people to learn to deal with and address what they were feeling, and stay steadier within themselves. The more I learn to look after myself, the more I realise how un-selfish this is – quite the opposite. Unless I’m truly taking care of myself, then how can I support anyone else or bring any quality to what I do? And when I really neglect myself, I become a burden on others, and on the health services.

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