by Alberto Villoldo Ph.D: Helping the elderly lead healthy and independent lives…
It seems that just when we are finally done raising our kids, we jump into the phase of caring for aging parents who, more often than not, are neither well nor aging gracefully.
This is a global problem and can be a tremendous strain on the family.
I read recently that in parts of Asia, increasing numbers of the elderly are being abandoned by their kids, forcing the state to take responsibility for them. As in the West, many are chronically ill, and do not have financial resources.
Although we no longer live in the village setting, and for many of us finances are stretched thin, there is much we can do in practical terms to help our elderly parents be as healthy and independent as possible.
Adjusting their diet is of primary concern. Start out by cutting out sugars and allergens – I recently did that with my own mother. By taking her off corn, eggs, gluten, dairy and sugar, she went from not being able to walk more than 20 feet without tremendous pain, to being pain-free within six months. Her inflammation went down and she started going out to the mall and the grocery store again.
There are other ways we can help. We can support them emotionally and let them know that they are loved and cared for. We can help them redirect their thoughts by getting them off television. So often in convalescent homes, everyone is glued to a TV set which regularly delivers bad news, misfortune and fear. Epigenetically, that amounts to programming the brain for disease and unhappiness. If they want to watch TV give them comedies and get them laughing.
We can support them through reflection, by inviting them to talk about their life journey. This is the basis of psychotherapy, having the opportunity to tell someone our story, and often the elderly feel like they don’t count anymore. As we encourage them to share the story of their youth, their learning, their first job, first love and travels, their life acquires context and meaning once again.
The shaman can perform Illuminations to clear stale chi that settles around joints and tissues causing inflammation and pain. The Illumination process helps get the chistirring to help recover motion to exercise and walk, and increase their quality of life.
Through the extraction process the shaman can remove intrusive energies that have crystallized and painfully settled into joints. A lot of arthritis is caused by crystallized energies that have become imbedded, and once extracted, tremendous healing can occur. This is an invaluable opportunity for a shaman to put to use the healing practices learned at the Light Body School.
This time of fear and anxiety is the perfect time to invite them to share their feelings about approaching the end of life. One of the most important things the shaman can do for an elderly person to help them find inner peace and safety is to reset their Fight or Flight system – what shamans commonly refer to as “bringing the jaguar down from the tree.”
When the time comes, we can assist our loved ones with the great Death Rites and their journey back home. There is no greater gift you can give the person who brought you into the world than to help them leave gracefully and peacefully.
I wrote about Death Rites in great detail in the final part of my book, Shaman, Healer, Sage. Years later, I still get letters from people saying, “Thank you, for helping me help my little girl to pass,” or “You helped me assist my mother to return back home.”
As you give of yourself to be of service to your elderly loved ones, you will receive many blessings indeed.