Everyone has intuitive abilities; some people are more skilled than others. Intuition is an instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning; it is an inner knowing. It’s not a thought until we begin to question it and consider other possibilities. Often following our counterintuitive decisions, we end up saying to ourselves, “I knew I should have listened to my gut!”
As dementia progresses, the individual experiences the inability to reason or reason things out. They perceive the world more through feeling than a thought, but unfortunately, their sensory perception also becomes damaged. One lady said the shower water hitting her skin felt like needles, and another person explained he heard words as one continuous noise. Many lose their sense of smell, especially with Alzheimer’s, which affects their ability to taste the food. And commonly, they lose depth perception and peripheral vision as well as experience hallucinations.
Intuition is centered in the heart, not in the brain. So, couldn’t we assume those with dementia with impaired brain function and sensory feedback are interpreting the world through feelings. Maybe their intuitive abilities would increase. Because intuition is not a conscious thought generated by the brain, perhaps they retain better intuitive capabilities than we give them credit.
A person with dementia might forget who you are, but they usually have a “feeling” you are familiar with or someone important to them. They are often adept at intuitively knowing what someone is feeling, but they can’t reason why or separate themselves. They can feel the other’s frustration, kindness, dislike, or love and react.
When caring for someone with dementia, the caregiver must hone their intuitive skills. When the person they care for can’t pinpoint pain or explain they are feeling sick, they will often react with problematic behavior. Like a mother’s instinctual understanding of her child, the caregiver must interpret what is troubling them, and often this is a gut instinct, intuition.
Few doctors give a diagnosis based on intuition. They use a symptom-based understanding and can be wrong when the person with dementia can’t explain symptoms. It is up to the family caregiver to explain, and if somethings wrong without specific symptoms, an intuitive knowing is imperative.
Intuition is very valuable for communicating with those with dementia, especially non-verbal people. Understanding body language is essential, and it helps to increase intuition of what the person needs to communicate. Listen to the words they can say, and intuitively find the meaning or missing parts.
Getting in touch with your intuition takes practice becoming consciously aware of your feelings and where they are situated in your body. If you react to emotions, finding mental justifications, you will find it hard to observe them. For me, anger is in the solar plexus and rises to heat my head, and sadness or joy in my heart area.
Sitting with your feelings and find where they reside in your body. Don’t try to analyze, change, or judge them, observe. The more non-judgmentally you keep your feelings, the better you will find your intuitive knowing and trusting it.
Do this, and caregiving becomes easier and creates closer emotional bonds with your loved one.