With my father recently being diagnosed with early-onset dementia, it has been a trying experience for our family. It literally was a test of wills in trying to get quality care. With many individuals in the alternative health-care field not returning our phone calls and emails it was like pulling teeth to find someone compassionate and understanding enough to work with us in this difficult situation.
After a year of being unable to persuade my father to try an alternative method of healing it became apparent that he was having trouble speaking logically and unable to have a coherent conversation when it came to handling money issues. My main wish was for him to heal and grow in a positive direction no matter what the outcome was. I would rather move forward with hope than succumbing to medical’s pessimistic attitude that there is “no known cure”.
As we got more and more concerned, I finally looked at all the medication he was taking. It was not surprising to find that each one had a particular side affect that caused memory loss. My research came up as follows:
- ASPIRIN – Causes an increased risk of cerebral micro-bleeding showing on MRI Scans of 5 to 10 mm or smaller.
- HEART MEDICATION – Each one leads to memory loss as a side-effect.
- NEUROLOGICAL MEDICATION – Also results in memory loss.
Dementia is basically a neurological disorder, with various degrees of severity. It is not a specific disease itself as it is more related to a symptom of reduced or impaired cognition. The person who has been diagnosed with dementia may have trouble in areas related to memory, attention-span, language, and problem solving. More specific forms of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease to name a few of the 50 forms that are categorized. It is important to understand that:
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by loss of neurons and synapses in the cerebral cortex and certain subcortical regions.
When we know exactly what the disease is then we can gather all the facts and utilize the proper biological principles of health to get to the root cause of the problem. Due to the various conditions that impede our progress, such as a poor diet and environmental toxins it sure is an uphill battle. However, even if we cannot achieve a full cure and complete recovery we can still alleviate our loved ones suffering to some degree. As this anthropologist says about the Feldenkrais method:
“This is the most sophisticated and effective method I have seen for the prevention and reversal of deterioration of function. We’re condemning millions of people to a deteriorated old age that’s not necessary.” — Margaret Mead PhD.
At the very least, we can improve the lives of a few people that are currently in nursing homes suffering from pain, agitation or boredom by being in a semi-vegetative state.
I was fortunate enough to come across Joyce Ann’s website after weeks of research. Each day I spent hours researching the web for a suitable healer for my father. As many alternative healers doubted the principles of rebuilding new neural patterns I set about to find substantial science to back this up. It wasn’t an easy task. It was quite exasperating to note that chiropractics and even a few Feldenkrais healers were skeptical.
Therefore, I offer this information to others going through the same situation with their parents that would like to have a suitable path to travel on. By doing so, hopefully we can make it easier for the next generation to be “armed” with the proper facts and knowledge when it is time to show doctors and family members what the real potential is for recovering from this terrible disease.
I contacted Joyce Ann and she was the first person who was friendly and helpful enough to understand what we were going through. She even gave me permission to convert her original article to a .PDF file and share it with others without my asking. With this change, I believe that it is now a more enjoyable read and a lot easier to see when printed out.
She wrote an article in the Alzheimer’s Care Quarterly 2006 Oct-Dec; 7(4): 278-86. which is a peer reviewed magazine that holds a lot of weight within the medical community. It is called “Individuals With Dementia Learn New Habits and Empowered Through the Feldenkrais Method”.
You can read her article that depicts six case studies that have shown positive results after just one session. She seems to be the first healer (in her field) to report positive progress with her geriatric patients. As you read the information you can see that her patients were able to overcome various limitations with dementia that ranged from Stroke to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. They were advanced cases of men and women in their late 70s and 90s that showed improvement in their functional level in relation to procedural memory and awareness of surroundings etc.
Download her article here: Individuals With Dementia
The principle of Feldenkrais is simple stated as: Awareness through Movement. What this means is that with simple movement lessons, our awareness and perception can be increased, improved, and refined. Since the way we move (in our day to day lives) consists mostly of unconscious actions, these habitual patterns can be seen for what they are, followed by a release of any holding patterns to form more functional ways to moving.
Normally, our habitual tendencies while sitting, eating and walking are not optimal and can be greatly reorganized. Once improvement has been achieved, then when we want to excel in sport or dance there will be more joy and freedom in the body. When this happens then all our activities become more effortless and extremely efficient.
Shockingly, I had found that some Feldenkrais healers weren’t fully up to date that movement therapy can be a significant benefit to geriatric patients for increasing their memory and spatial awareness. Currently, this therapy has been wonderful in helping those suffering from pain and trauma. Yet there is more that can be done for those undergoing memory and speech problems. As more and more practitioners add their knowledge and experience, there will be a greater shift in awareness of what the full potential this healing modality has to offer.
The current trend is to help children who are autistic or handicapped with muscular dystrophy. One common therapy is to have these children ride a horse on a weekly basis.
Since the child has to consciously adjust themselves to remain on the horse it literally trains them to have better motor skills and balance. This really is the principle of movement therapy that Moshe Feldenkrais had discovered long ago.
When it comes to old people receiving help, it should be the same principle. Since the current consensus is that it is impossible for new neurons to grow in the brain it is frustrating when our loved are suffering without a suitable remedy. It is certainly understandable that most people would be skeptical that a movement therapy can connect and repair the damaged synapse in the brain.
Yet, there are so many people who are suffering all over the world who are mostly ignored or go unnoticed while we enjoy our lives. To make a positive difference in this world, then we need to increase the range of this healing modality and identify a third layer to this healing. Since this Feldenkrais principle holds true for autistic children, then it must follow that it would help older people who are suffering with dementia. The three layers could be categorized as follows.
Feldenkrais Layers of Healing:
- pain and inflexibility
- accidents, sports injury or birth trauma
- memory loss in old age
As Dr. Weil says, “I have been intrigued by this subtle form of retraining the nervous system, which I recommend to patients whose movement has been restricted by injury, cerebral palsy, stroke, fibromyalgia, or chronic pain.” He goes on to say:
“I find it to be much more useful than standard physical therapy. I also believe that the Feldenkrais Method® can help older people achieve greater range of motion and flexibility, and help all of us feel more comfortable in our bodies.” — Andrew Weil, M.D.
During most of the 20th century, the general consensus among neuroscientists was that the brain structures become fixed and cannot change past early childhood. This has been the popular belief among the masses as well as alternative healers who respect science over healing principles and personal experience. As Neil Sharp M.D. explains,
“Indeed it was only in 1999 that the Nobel Laureate Torsten Wiesel admitted in print that he and David Hubel had been wrong in declaring that neuroplasticity is impossible beyond the critical period of infancy.”
This admission has helped pave the way for the knowledge that Anat Baniel and her teacher Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais have accrued through their experience over decades of transforming the lives of children and adults whom conventional medicine had believed were beyond help or recovery.
From the ABM website:
Principle of neuroplasticity:
Decades of research done by thousands of neuroscientists has shown that the brain can change itself. The brains of infants and children are extremely changeable needing to form all the brain patterns associated with voluntary action. Their brains are constantly expanding and mapping new territory. The science of brain plasticity shows how, under the right conditions, the adult brain can also restructure itself in remarkable ways. Even the birth of new brain cells can occur in adults, as well as children!
“As a neuroscientist interested in the development and plasticity of the nervous system, it is gratifying to see how the Feldenkrais Method demonstrates these principles. The Feldenkrais Method has also greatly improved my personal quality of life – physically and emotionally – by reducing the restrictions and limitations I thought were permanent due to multiple sclerosis.” — Marla Luskin, Ph.D., Emory University Medical School
NOTE: The “birth of new brain cells” could be further researched and analyzed later on. We could infer this to mean growing new stem cells – which is a hot topic in itself. Anyway, we have two choices available to us. We can either rely on the principles of movement therapy or wait until science has it all figured out. Since functional integration healers are currently improving the quality of lives then there really is no need to wait and do nothing. The honorable and compassionate thing to do is to try our best to alleviate our loved ones pain and suffering.
After doing further research I discovered some people were able to get off their medication and utilize Coconut Oil in their daily life. It has been found to be very helpful in protecting the brain with the appropriate, healthy fats. In reality, there is no difference in whether one uses olive oil or coconut oil. It’s just the current research has been with coconut oil to improve the ketones in our body.
Substitute Coconut Oil in cooking where other oils are called for – consume at least two tablespoons a day, minimum. You can use it as a preventive if there’s dementia in your family history.
Since I noticed my dad unconsciously eating excessive amounts of yoghurt I believe that it was his body’s way of protecting itself from the harmful damages occurring in the brain by eating more fatty foods. Of course, a much better choice than fish oil and yoghurt is something that obeys nature more closely like Coconut Oil. You can read this book for more exact guidance: Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure?
Without all the facts and proper knowledge there is always going to be fear getting off the pharmaceutical medication. That is perfectly fine. There is no need to push or force someone into making a change. In fact, it is best when they make the choice once they have full confidence in what they are doing. And that means growing at their own pace and having a cognition about their situation. It really takes a lot of work to break through these deepest fears; especially when it comes to following our own path to natural health.
Whatever the case may be, it is good to try this physical therapy until one sees promising results. It takes work and discipline to grow and make progress. When there is progress and gains are made, then healing becomes a fun and joyful participation. At any rate, here are some amazing testimonials to inspire our family and loved ones become more interested in taking health into their own hands:
“Feldenkrais is not just pushing muscles around, but changing things in the brain itself.” — Karl Pribram, M.D., Neuroscientist, Georgetown University”
Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais developed a system that is many years ahead of conventional medical understanding.” — Martin Rossman, M.D., Author, ‘Healing Yourself’
“The system developed by Dr. Feldenkrais has as much potential for understanding the mind/body relationship as Einstein’s general theory of relativity had for physics.” — Bernard Lake, M.D.
More testimonials can be found here: David Zemach-Bersin
We finally did find someone compassionate enough to work with my father. I was extremely fortunate enough to sit in with my father on his first Feldenkrais session. Even though he couldn’t differentiate any changes taking place I could discern at least ten major energetic-releases of various holding patterns.
When sitting in the chair, I noticed myself able to relax some bodily tension as my father released his own physical and energetic blocks. This lead me to believe that every family member should participate together in order to achieve a basic harmony so badly needed within the modern family.
Since we are all connected at a subconscious level when one person heals everyone benefits. In addition to standing taller and walking straighter, he looked impressive as an expert martial artist would, when pushing hands against the therapist.
After eating a late brunch I noticed that he still had trouble communicating what type of eggs he wanted. Rather than being introverted and give up at least he expressed himself with words. Of course, this will be an ongoing process and when most people have trouble hitting the root cause by changing their diet – this therapy has a lot of hidden potential.