Caregiver Tips: Working with Elderly with Alzheimer’s disease using their Body Memory.

Body Memory

What is body memory?

An elderly man with Alzheimer’s disease is walking down the hall in a Nursing Home in full view of the staff. Suddenly he blacks out, loses consciousness and instead of falling and possibly breaking a leg or a hip – he tucks his head down and goes into a perfect roll forward landing uninjured on his back – everyone saw it.

What happened here? This was body memory! You see when this man was young he studied a martial art called Hapkito. In this form of martial art you learn to roll. So even though he had not practiced this roll for many years and didn’t even remember learning this art, his body remembered and still knew how to roll.

The memory that helps when taking care of the confused elder.
This is the memory (body memory) that you want to use when working with your elder when brushing teeth, dressing, going to the bathroom. All of those familiar and over practiced movements that are still remembered by the body.

For an elder with memory loss – focusing on the abilities that remain and that the body remembers, (because these activities the body learned at a very young age and have been repeated daily over so many years) – this is the memory that the elder with Alzheimer’s need for daily living and that provide for the elder an opportunity for success in their day.

Every time the caregiver puts their hand over the patients hand while they eat, to “get them going.” And then the patient continues the movement of spooning something to their mouth – the caregiver has tuned into the elder’s body memory.

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