About two months ago I was invited to have some regular contact with an elderly woman who has been diagnosed with dementia and now lives in a home for elderly people with this condition.
So I went to meet her and got to know the dementia nursing home and the staff that worked there. What I observed is that many of the residents were missing a sparkle in their eyes, or appeared vague with this blank stare. Most of the residents can‘t walk anymore and they just sit all day, with very little activity. It was eye-opening for me to see people spending the last few years of their lives this way. Seeing many of these elderly residents just existing in this haze, it made me consider – there was something more.
My Own Ways of Checking Out
Seeing all these people living with dementia was confronting to me because it made me become more aware of the way I used to live – and still partly live – my own life. I started to ponder more deeply on my own ways of checking out, of going off into my head, letting my mind go anywhere, doing things without being totally present.
I regularly checked out with distractions like surfing the internet or watching TV for hours, eating, talking, thinking, escaping into my mind, internet shopping or looking for a new home. An activity like surfing the internet itself is neutral, but it was the quality I chose to do these activities in: my intention was often driven by not wanting to feel and deal with what was really going on for me and the people around me.
I could feel how long I have lived avoiding to truly feel what is going on within and around me – so I started to realise that giving up and checking out is very familiar to me. I have not been taking responsibility for how I live and I have not been wanting to feel what I was feeling.
My experience now is: the more I allow myself to feel the more aware I get, even if it’s very confronting (like feeling people with dementia), and even if I have to feel my own choosing to check out. But this way I get to know more of me. Now I have to really turn around the way I live to support myself lovingly, to feel all and to stay present with myself and with what I am doing at any given time, and not to run and numb myself when I can feel some struggle or pain.
When I allow myself to feel all, I give myself permission to also feel the love and joy that I am and that is all around me: I now finally have felt this very clearly too.
So I started doing some research and reading articles about dementia…
In Germany we have at present about 1.4 million people with dementia and they expect a rise up to 2.2 million by 2030 (1).
So What Is Going On?
Something is going horribly wrong here. There is no coincidence in the way dementia is on the rise if we truly consider the way many people live their lives.
Dementia is not only a side effect of people getting old, it is a clear reflection of a society which is choosing to check out and distract as a normal way of being. And then, after doing that for years, they are ending up not wanting to feel how disconnected they have lived and finally want to escape from life completely.
Becoming aware of all of this and being honest with myself and how I was living, I now appreciate how much I have changed my way of living. From watching TV a lot and drinking alcohol every day throughout my adult life until I was about 30 years old, to now choosing to engage in life more fully.
Now I have a different marker in my body and I can see and feel that I am not empty but that I am full of life and vitality; this gives me a constant reminder to choose to stay present.
So now I present my whole self to that elderly lady with dementia, making sure I stay mentally present, not allowing myself to react but connecting in a loving way with her.
With that I am reminded that there is a different way, and that is what I bring into that home for people with dementia….. this is much needed.
I have started to connect to other people who work with people with dementia and I have started to talk to people about dementia in general. We need to really start to ponder on what is going on here, and to start the discussion…. what has led us to this epidemic?
By Janina Koch, Cologne, Germany
Inspired by Serge Benhayon, Universal Medicine and the Esoteric Student Body.
Dementia – is it truly a mystery?
Sue I agree it is actual quite shocking that until someone cared enough about me to say hey is it possible that you are not with yourself that I started to look at the ways I checked out and then just how much I did check out by being in my mind and living from there. I never gave a thought to what was going on in my body. It has taken a long time to come back to myself and the difference is amazing so much so that I can now feel when I have left my body because it feels so sickening to do so.
I have become much more aware of the how we lose ourselves by not wanting to see and feel what is really there to be seen and felt. I always knew about energy as a child and I shut myself down so that I thought I was getting away with not feeling and so therefore was lacking in the basic responsibility of knowing and understanding energy. This then allows the energy to control me and my thoughts. Since meeting Serge Benhayon some time ago I have been very slowly developing a trust within myself that I do understand energy and that it affects everyone and everything we do, say, think and how we move and it is not as scary as I believed it to be as a child.
Doug you’re right when you say that many elderly people are ‘doped up on drugs to make them easier to manage’ because to be honest most of the care staff are also checked out and with a ratio of one staff to anything from 6 to 10 residents then steps are taken to make the ‘work load’ as easy as possible. Sure not all nursing homes are like that but many are and it’s understandable why they run the way that they do. What’s lacking in pretty much all of us is the understanding of the multidimensionality of life. We travel through life by rote, completely unaware that this is what we’re doing. We are a universally checked out planet.
Wow we really are responsible for our own health, and this article brings this home to us.
In reading this ‘I regularly checked out with distractions like surfing the internet or watching TV for hours, eating, talking, thinking, escaping into my mind, internet shopping or looking for a new home.’ what was scary was the regularly checking out with surfing the internet and just how much this has increased over time as currently having constant access to this we are doing it more and more every moment, every day. For instance it is normal now to get on a train in London and for nearly every single person to be looking at their phone, eyes down, no true connection with themselves or others around them. And if we are making this a ‘normal’ in life in our younger years then goodness what are the older years going to be like?
I have met some very inspiring people in their elder year, they still have that spark in their eye and love life. Every choice we make daily will contribute to the quality we live in in our elder years.
And don’t these elders contribute so much – especially to children? When I was a child my grandmother was totally vital. The joy my sisters and I had in her company was awesome and we learned so much from her. Today her kids’ generation, my parents’ generation, are so medicated up that my kids’ generation are missing out!
Beautiful reminder to me about the importance of being present in all that I do and the encounters I have, as the quality of my presence may be inviting for more disconnection (if I’m checked out too) or igniting awareness. Great responsibility to acknowledge!
Dementia is massive sign to all humanity that how we are living is far from true.
Yes and if it is increasing, which it is, then we absolutely need to look at how we have been and are living as clearly, on many levels it is not working. This article and dementia which makes some good reading and talks about it a bit more, including looking at what we need to change collectively https://www.unimedliving.com/living-medicine/medical-conditions/alzheimer-s-dementia-do-we-have-a-part-to-play.html
It is almost an epidemic now and people look forward to retiring have definitely checked-out as what retirement feels like is a way of not fully committing to life! When we are committed to life a vitality is felt that lasts and is felt in our every movement so we live with a joy and harmony with our-selves and all others, which is the feeling we express and share with others.
Dementia is horrible, it’s avoidable and it is growing – this says a lot about how we are living as human beings.
Checking-out with things outside of us instead of checking-in with who we are.
Sure because currently so many of us equate the things that are outside of us with who we are. We see ourselves as our jobs, our kids, our partners, the cars we drive, the hobbies we do, the films we watch, the food we eat, our holiday destinations, our income, our struggles etc but none of these things are who we are because none of these things exist on the inside and in truth it’s only what exists on the inside that truly dictates who we are.
Janina, your article feels like an important reminder of the long term affects of checking out and going off into our heads; ‘ I started to ponder more deeply on my own ways of checking out, of going off into my head, letting my mind go anywhere, doing things without being totally present.’
It is easy to be critical of another with dementia, however, on some level we all know how to ‘check out’ and not be present and even then there are levels of presence! Likewise we can feel when someone holds a very strong level of awareness and presence and this is very beautiful and inspiring. And so we have a choice each and every day to support ourselves with the presence and this can in turn inspire others to do likewise. A win win all around.
I agree Alison with the internet we need to sharpen our powers of discernment, I too can go on to Facebook for example just to wish someone a joyful Birthday and find myself looking through the feed and getting distracted. Interesting that I get these notifications by email every time a Facebook friend is having a Birthday…and interesting that I sometimes have a knee jerk reaction to follow it up. Likewise in researching something…it is the curiosity of the mind that can take us off on these forays. Continually checking in with the breath and body supports us – the more we use these markers on a regular basis the more they become our truth…and we become true.
‘what has led us to this epidemic?’ great question and one I feel we are turning a blind eye to. I see a lot of people turning to distraction and numbing out, especially with technology. I hear people talk about self-care as binge watching TV and taking time out. I look at how I can want to retreat from the world and not be present. I know this isn’t what is needed or what supports my health in anyway.
Great point – it’s not what we do, as in, an activity can be neutral – but how we do it – the intention behind it, that makes the difference between whether it is something that deepens our connection with one another and the wider world, or distances us from it. Thinking about connecting to what we can feel is very different to actually just connecting to and being aware of what we can feel.
Being present and feeling what is going on for us is one thing, but what is our ability to accept life as it is without avoidance or reaction?
Living wth my mother with dementia for many years was an experience that brought understanding and the importance of presence and commitment to life to my life with the support understanding and root cause of this from the way of living with Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine that made all the difference and is a vital part of our lives to remain who we truly are.
I regularly go into these care homes to help out, and the first few times was a real eye opener, and quite distressing how many people spend the last few years of their lives in this zombie like state. This brings it back to the importance of healing ourselves, of making sure we are present in our bodies, and healing anything that may hinder that.
All illness and disease have an underlying cause. The more we are open to seeing the root cause of an illness the more we will be able to deal with it and indeed prevent it.
Yes, it is the only way really, to address and heal the underlying cause, otherwise we are just dealing with symptoms which were really just a warning signal from our body that something was wrong.
The thing that I like to remember when I meet a person who has dementia, is how once they were vibrant and strong and full of life, and even though those times have past, that person, or the essence of them, still remains.
From my experience with dementia it is not something that any of us want to experience it can be a very slow and horrible way to die. There are only a few people in the world that are honest enough to speak the truth of the energy behind dementia and because no one seems prepared to listen or take responsibility then it is a illness that will increase just like all the other illness and diseases that we get because we disregard our bodies and ourselves.
As a society checking out is big business, people pay a lot of money to indulge in mind-numbing activities and body-numbing activities. And then more money is paid out to the whole elderly care industry
When you check out from feeling the stuff you don’t want to feel, you also check out from feeling the amazingness of yourself, the joy of being you. It is like we throw the ‘baby out with the bathwater’.
It is about bringing a true understanding why it is important to stay connected to our feelings and not checkout. When we love our selves deeply we are able to bring this level of true understanding.
What I notice about this article, is how ‘checking-out’ from oneself is also a distancing from everybody else, and as this gets compounded in our elder years, it also becomes apparent of just how much we really need eachother and to constantly work on remaining open and connected with eachother.
Yes I agree, dementia exposes how we have been living and the lack of connection to ourselves and hence towards others in our lives; unless we make our lives truly about people and our connection with one another then there will always be an opening for dementia to occur.
Great and confronting article Janina. And very needed. It made me also reflect on my own way of living. And up to very recently, I was getting also more foggier each day, allowing the wrong energies in, because I chose to NOT be in my body as my first responsibility. Is this leading up to dementia? I would fully say: Yes it is.
Dementia is on the rise, so too is our many forms or entertainment and distraction – no coincidences there.
Entertainment and distraction are a few forms that are affecting the alertness of one’s being. When we check out with all this we are saying its ok to be this way.
Whenever we choose not to be with our body we are checking out. We check out not to feel because what we are feeling we think is too painful but in truth it is painful and can feel very uncomfortable not to feel as when we choose not to feel we hold ill-energy within our body. Connecting and allowing ourselves to feel no matter what it is or how ridiculous we make think it is, is amazing medicine for the body and something I am learning to give myself a daily dose of not because I don’t want to have dementia or other illness and disease but because I feel vital and alive when I allow myself to feel.
To deal with the large number of people getting dementia now, and at an earlier age we have to look at the root cause of the disease and this article does that. When we don’t deal with our hurts we don’t want to be in our bodies and that brings about the need to check out. Dementia is telling us that we need to heal ourselves.
Beautifully said Elizabeth what are those tensions in life that we find so difficult to deal with that we avoid by checking out and distracting.
It really is about us taking responsibility of healing our hurts so we don’t end up with dementia or any form or illness.
Absolutely Elizabeth, bring it back to the root cause of any disease is imperative. ‘When we don’t deal with our hurts we don’t want to be in our bodies and that brings about the need to check out.’ We have to be responsible for healing ourselves.
It’s an important point you raise here Janina because we aren’t taught as a general rule what ‘checking out’ is and not to check out. I know from experience that there are the obvious checkouts, like losing yourself in social media, or a book or a computer game but there are the other much more subtle ways where we simply may not want to know something and divert attention away with a thought or an action. When I do this I deliberately disconnect and it has an effect on me later that leaves me maybe feeling tired, hungry, demotivated or emotional. It’s not an obvious correlation but it is one I have begun to recognise and know by simply observing myself and what I’m feeling.
Interesting to understand the effects checking out can have on us at a later point in time as you say here Rosanna, like feeling hungry, tired, demotivated and emotional. I can relate to this, but also know that when I stay focussed on what I am doing, and bring true purpose the complete opposite to all the above happens. Its quite extraordinary!
Not only are we ‘not taught what checking out is and not to check out’ but we are taught to check out in pretty much every area of our lives. At school we’re taught to go into our heads in order to learn rather than being taught that wisdom is what comes through the body. We are taught to compete which takes our focus away from what’s truly going on inside, we are taught that entertainment and relaxation are good things and yet both are checking out, we are taught to use food to check out at pretty much every meal, the list is literally endless because we have made checking out our accepted way of living.
The checked outness of life most of us are living in the world from all ages is a real epidemic and opening this out for true discussion and awareness is vital in the world, and is beautifully shared with a realness and honesty here to be seen and known what is really going on and the simple changes and choices we can all make for us to stop this with true love and responsibility.
Dementia has now become a major factor that effects many families. The ‘c’ word was seen as the biggest concern, but with these growing rates in escapism with dementia it looks like the ‘d’ word has over taken in our modern day living.
That is so true, and hence there is a big fear around dementia, and opportunity for people to take responsibility so that it does not creep into their life.
No coincidence that there is a rise in cases of dementia and checking out in a world with more methods of escaping and being distracted than ever before.
The best way to offset ill-conditions is to live in a way that inspires and not judges.
It is very revealing to feel how so many children are now checked out.
“We need to really start to ponder on what is going on here, and to start the discussion…. what has led us to this epidemic?” No one is talking about what we have done to be in such a messy frightening place when it comes to the ever growing statistics with dementia.
We don’t just get dementia – dementia happens over many years and will always start with disengagement and disillusionment from life.
It is quite shocking to take stock how and when, how often and how deeply we check out but a great step to living life more fully.
You don’t have to check out. I know plenty of people in their 80s and even 90s who don’t check out, who are very much there.
As with many things in life we have come to except that dementia is just a fact of life, something many people will get when growing older. But could it be that this perceived acceptance is already a form of checking out? We do not look at the reality anymore which shows us it is not just simply old age, for if it was should it not have happened in the same way 50 or more years ago? And why is it happening to people in the 40′ and 50’s now as well? If we truly want to look at what is behind this epidemic we need to first be willing to see to the detail what is going on.
The way we use technology to escape life only seems to have escalated our checking out. Seeing the true devastating affects dementia wreaks it’s clear that there’s no app that will fix this.
I pondered recently about the fact, that we think, that when you get older it is “normal” to get a disease like dementia. What if it is not normal that at a certain age, you don´t feel vital, you have no spark anymore and that it is all about, either travelling the world, waiting to die or “enjoying” life by doing nothing. What if the whole system and pictures we have of ageing is a huge lie and actually does not honour any of our elderly, wise people. How much comfort do we seek by getting older and what if working with purpose for the all is our greatest prevention for any kind of disease in life?
What we see in nursing homes is the end result of having dementia already for a long time, I just read an article from a professor of psychiatry and ageing at the university of Edinburgh who suggest that prevention of this disease needs to start earlier, in our midlife, lifestyle decisions around that age will impact our chance of getting dementia. So yes we need this discussion around what is going on with this epedemic and to become very honest how we are contributing with living unaware and checked out a lot. For myself I’ve noticed that I need to be much more present in small things, like ‘did I locked the car, where did I put my sunglasses (even when I’ve put them away 5 minutes ago’) Hallo where are you?
One just needs to take a glimpse of our everyday behaviours how often are we checking our devices, checking screens looking to be entertained and longing for endless holidays. All in the pursuit of disengaging with life.
That is a great point and much of this ‘checking’ is for the purpose of checking out.
This is such a great point Annelies as it is exactly these small things that we forget so quickly that are potentially the beginnings of Dementia, and they can actually start when we are quite young. So if dementia is not only on the increase in older people, but people are being diagnosed with the condition younger and younger, prevention at an earlier age makes complete sense.
Just by looking around now at people on the streets, in grocery stores, restaurants, and schools with their zombie-like gazes glued to various screened devices and pretty much oblivious to everything going on around them, it seems obvious to me that we are headed for a massive increase in the levels of dementia worldwide if these behaviours prevail and are not addressed in a way that gets to the cause of why we are using so many methods to avoid being and expressing our true soulful way.
While looking for a new home recently I noticed just how addicted it started to feel when I was searching for houses on the internet, and how I was using it to check-out in a way from what I was feeling on a deeper level at the time. This became readily evident after we found a place to move to and there was a feeling of something lost or missing, as I no longer had any reason for searching incessantly on the internet! I actually missed it, which was very revealing when I got honest about why I had adopted this behaviour.
We can take our physical AND mental health into our own hands, and instead of leaving it up to ‘how we age’ as to whether or not we develop dementia or other illnesses/diseases, we can commit in full to living from now a routine where we are fully engaged with life, aware and looking after ourselves.
Yes, you still can’t predict what happens but you can be there in full and there are lots of indications that a life lived this way will be much more loving and healthy than otherwise.
How often do we all take note of the moments we choose to check out even if that is for a spilt second? We all can feel the tensions of the world but when we choose to check out we are offering less to others in our expression and harming the greater community in the way our bodies take on this impact.
The illusions can been seen, we know them, our choice to allow them will keep us locked on the path of illness. Using the wisdom we hold to expose them is very much needed, as Elizabeth shares above. To ignore, brush under the carpet, keep quiet to maintain the peace, is to escalate the rise of illnesses such as dementia.
As a kid daydreaming in my head was my safety blanket and over these last couple of years I’ve been learning to be more and more present with what I am feeling and the current moment I am in, it is simple to accept what I am feeling but breaking down the momentum of constantly choosing to escape requires time and commitment and appreciation for when I am present which brings a lot of understanding, steadiness and clarity into my life.
If the figures quoted here do actually eventuate, then we have all failed, as each of us, through our own choice of how we live, are reflections for our coming generations. Is this not enough of a reason to live present, joyful and light each and every day?
What is so very sad is that the things we use to check out with are not only becoming more prolific, affordable and super stimulating, but that we have humanity (a whole race of people) wanting more.
I get that I have a responsibility towards myself, to feel what is going on within me and I am willing to live this truth to the best of my ability. I also get that I have a responsibility to feel what is going on around me but I am aware as I read this blog that there is some resistance coming up to say yes wholeheartedly to this responsibility. Is it because of my lack of acceptance and understanding choosing sympathy instead of love and holding them knowing they will one day let go of the hurt and pain they are feeling? To observe, detach, empower and read what is going on within others not only supports them but it also supports me too, a learning for a greater level of love to hold within my body.
I have read articles that show that dementia is now affecting people in their thirties, it does ask us as a society to stop and pay more attention to what is going on and how we are living, if this used not to occur in the past, but is now.
This article is great and I feel that we need many more articles like it in the world today, so there can at the very least start to be a conversation on what is actually happening for each person.
Once, a few years ago I went to visit an old lady in a nursing home. To the outlooker she looked normal, as she had done all of her life her hair was combed perfectly, make up done, clothes well put together but to those who knew her she was empty. She was speaking stuff that did not make sense, or were a complete lie. Which of course will be the case, when we allow our mental state to run the show we can come up with a million scenarios, different stories and we could actually convince ourselves are true, we can create a life of lies and be convinced we are living truth.
I am with you Janina in choosing to be present and commitedly in life without perfection to reflect the truth of how Life can be.
Dementia will continue to grow and grow unless we look at our distractions and what we avoid.
To look at our own habits in which we check out is very important. Rather than looking at the illness that is dementia, what if we took 10 steps back and looked at the ways in which we are not there in our day – and consider that these all add up to feeding the state of play.
Really there is no better feeling then being really engaged and fully present and committed in the world, yet we live in a world where everything around us tells us not to be our true selves hence why many of us are constantly looking for outside distractions because we feel we can not simply be ourselves.
We say old age is horrible and something to avoid but could it be it’s just a mirror of the way we’ve lived our life? And so if we chose to escape what we end up with will be hard to take. But imagine what an elder would be like who’s consistently chosen Love and to live with honesty? It seems to me they’d be so wise and rich and joyful to be alive. This is the path I wish to take – so thanks to your blog Janina, I can see what to choose today.
Awesome point Joseph.
I have known some vibrant, alive elderly people and their essence has been a pleasure to enjoy in their older years. The beauty is, it is never too late to begin to live a loving, engaging life.
We don’t like to see it, but our choices add up. Illnesses are not random as may seem but a confirmation that we’ve been living less than Love. When we see each illness as a correction we can’t help but see how healing sickness can be.
Yes, its true that when we check out to numb what we don’t want to feel, we are also numbing ourselves from feeling love and the great stuff too.
I visit a rest home about once a week and many of the residents appear to be totally unaware of life going on around them, but there are also some who are alert and enjoying life to the best of their physical ability. When I observe those who appeared to ‘checked out’, I wonder what has brought them to this place in their lives, a place where they are simply existing from day to day. There appears to not be a set pattern as there are those in their 70’s who struggle to move and to converse, and then there is the most delightful and very active 100 year old who, to me, is living life to the fullest and is an absolute joy to be around. I get a sense from talking to her that this is the way she lived her life, fully present and making the most of every moment.
‘An activity like surfing the internet itself is neutral, but it was the quality I chose to do these activities in: my intention was often driven by not wanting to feel and deal with what was really going on for me and the people around me.’ How many people choose to use the internet in this manner and would relate it to a checked out state as dementia, yet for me it rings true, it all has to do with the quality we choose to do things in whether we stay present or not.
In giving up what is real, we give up living in connection to our Soul, the quality that truly animates us to live with true purpose, from our very first to our very last breath. Regardless of the age of our body our lives are enriched whenever we live in connection to our essence, as such reflect the light of who we are with whatever we do. There is always much for us to share, explore and learn as our evolution is always on offer.
I would say forgetfulness isn’t just an old age thing, I know people in their 20’s that can’t remember something I’ve told them 5 times. I have blanked out entire events or tasks I had to do when I get lost in the busyness of my mind. It’s like I can’t think straight and everything is hazey. Coming back to how I feel helps make sense of everything again.
Of late I’ve realised that many people in my daily passing or sharing with them are suffering with forgetfulness or just saying “Oh I do that a lot lately” and put it down to their age? Observing this, it is very much an accepted reality of life that this is ‘normal’.
This blog and others relating to this subject have really touched my awareness levels regarding dementia and similar numbing out activities that take place constantly. Age is only another excuse – what a mind bender!
Feeling what has to be felt the confronting things we don’t want to acknowledge is opening up more space to accept ourselves, we grow and expand when we do that and we also expand in understanding of the world. What a loving process..
Beautiful Adele. I have realised that through my own reaction and then resistance to feeling all that was going on in the world and even in my life, I was shutting off to bringing all that I knew deep down was what the world needed more of; love and my connection to it. With our openness to embrace life, all of it, we are open to know and feel what is needed to bring more of who we are, our truth and love to life, which is everything that this world is crying out for.
Indeed Dementia is not more than a long and deep lived pattern of being not connected with the body but always in thoughts in the mind. The mind ruling life which long term effects are getting a chronic way of being absent.
Dementia essentially begins when we begin to check out and not want to be a part of real life. Think of the number of teens and adults already checking out on screens, even walking out around town with their phone out and looking at the screen all the time completely oblivious to what is going on around them…it is like we want so much to escape real life that we are willing to be immersed into a virtual reality. But the real question is, why are we so keen to escape ‘real life’?
I too have visited and worked in Nursing homes, and it is confronting to see the elderly that are walking around in black and white rather than in colour so to speak – and as you have so beautifully said Janina, having lost their sparkle! But when you do connect with them and see the beginnings of the return of the sparkle, it feels amazing to see them begin to blossom again!
“I could feel how long I have lived avoiding to truly feel what is going on within and around me – so I started to realise that giving up and checking out is very familiar to me.” As a society it is not our ‘norm’ to really go there with our feelings, we are surrounded by a million things that help us to avoid our true feelings yet with the high rise in dementia we can see this is not working and has never worked.