Monday, 11 October 2010

Age gracefully through clinical hypnosis

Malaysia is fast approaching being an aged society for the first time in history.

 “According to the United Nations’ figures, the proportion of Malaysia’s population aged 65 and above is projected to reach 7.1% in 2020.  A widely used definition of ageing society, often attributed to the UN, is one in which the 65+ group accounts for more than 7% of the total population. The population over 60+ will be 11.2%

Malaysia is not alone in facing the prospect of having an ageing population, nor is this a recent trend.  Says a UN report issued in 2002, World Population Ageing 1950-2050 - by 2050, the number of older persons in the world will exceed the number of young for the first time in history.”

(Source: The Star Online, “Coming to grips with an ageing society”, 4 September 2010)

“The health and well-being needs of the ‘Older person” are a little different” says Sheila Menon, Principal of the London College of Clinical Hypnosis.  Menon has been asked to speak at a Conference called ‘Everyone Can Retire Well’ organised by the Financial Planning Association of Malaysia on 13-14 October in Kuala Lumpur.

This October the London College of Clinical Hypnosis (LCCH) will introduce for the first time in Asia clinical hypnosis designed specifically for older people. To provide more information to the older person, there will be a helpline providing information and all hypnotherapy sessions relating to the elderly will be nominally charged. The focus will be on managing a healthy life balance, exploring the role of the older person in our changing community, addressing changes of life style and learning the benefits of hypnosis for conditions typically associated with the aging process.

There are many conditions that affect the elderly but perhaps one of the most common is osteoarthritis, which is the most common type of arthritis. It affects men and women causing a deterioration of the protective lining of cartilage in our joints.  The development of osteoarthritis may be related to physical trauma, ageing or heredity.  Hypnotherapy, a proven intervention for pain management, can help the older person to cope with the discomfort of this condition. Also important are the psychosocial aspects such as feeling useless or frustrated or simply unable to do previous tasks. Without proper attention, these feelings can lead to anxiety, feelings of unhappiness or depressed and produce an external focus of locus of control. An external locus of control is associated with a generalised feeling of low self-esteem and lack of ability to cope. It is also associated with poor mental and physical health. Research shows that the older person is more prone to having an external focus. What is less well known is that that simple methods of clinical hypnosis can return the locus of control to a more healthy position which in turn results is a greater sense of well being or health. This means that hypnosis can help the elderly to adjust to a more appropriate pace of day-to-day life and the experience of hypnosis itself is associated with an improved sense of well-being.

Not all older people experience osteoarthritis. They do however become more prone to feel some types of pain more than younger adults, especially chronic pain.  For some older people, pain is a part of their daily life, something that they must cope with as best as they can.  It is possible to manage and control pain using the self-hypnosis although this should be done with a properly trained clinical hypnotherapist working in conjunction with the patient’s doctor. In Malaysia, the London College of Clinical Hypnosis works in collaboration with the Academy of Family Physicians Malaysia ensuring the highest standards in hypnotherapy.

Of course many older people will experience the loss of a loved one or even the responsibility of becoming the carer of a loved one. With the advances of modern medicine and the increasing life expectancy of the older person these considerations are now an important factor to healthy living for the elderly. The London College of Clinical Hypnosis will introduce a revolutionary workshop designed to help older generations cope with these important issues. It is an interesting fact that clinical hypnosis can help the person cope with the pain of loss just in a very similar way to coping with the pain of physical discomfort.

Perhaps the most common condition associated with getting older is Insomnia. This is often a combination of changing requirements of sleep (older people require less sleep) along with recognising and adjusting to this new sleep pattern. Without proper information and skills, many older people resort to sleeping tablets and become increasingly tired, anxious and unhappy. Sometimes they also feel out of synche with the rest of the world, going to bed early and then waking up at unsociably early hours while the rest of the family remain asleep. Clinical hypnosis is a powerful tool to remedy these changes in sleep habits. Insomnia patients can also be helped successfully using clinical hypnosis.

With a good night’s sleep, it is much easier to cope with some of the other problems facing the elderly. Incontinence – either bowel or bladder is usually accompanied by psychological and emotional issues that can be dealt with using clinical hypnosis. This can have a positive effect on the person experiencing bowel and bladder incontinence and help them to cope more easily with the situation. Clinical hypnosis can also remedy many of the mental and psychological problems caused by this condition including helping the older person re-establish a sense of dignity.  It is important to recognise that there are some things in life which are inevitable. However, isolation and lack of understanding can compound a problem and lead to feelings of desperation and anxiety.  In fact one role of clinical hypnosis will be to help the older person cope more effectively and more enjoyably with their situation.  A skilled practitioner will also help the older person communicate better with their family. Many people worry about becoming a burden to the loved ones and often younger fitter people have a difficulty in discussing these
issues. Simply learning to communicate on these matters will help to improve the quality of life for the older person.

It is a well documented fact that clinical hypnosis when used to prepare a patient prior and following an operation can reduce the amount of general anaesthesia and pain medication necessary during and after the operation. There are also strong indications for improved recovery rates and reduced, scarring and bleeding when hypnosis is utilised all of which is very helpful to the recover of our older patient.

Dementia “A scientist at the University of Liverpool has found that hypnosis can slow down the impacts on dementia and improve quality of life for those living with the condition.  Forensic psychologist, Dr Simon Duff, investigated the effects of hypnosis on people living with dementia and compared the treatment to mainstream healthcare methods.  He also looked at how hypnosis compared to a type of group therapy in which participants were encouraged to discuss news and current affairs.  They found that people living with dementia who had received hypnosis therapy showed an improvement in concentration, memory and socialization compared to the other two treatment groups.  Relaxation, motivation and daily living activities also improved with the use of hypnosis……………………………………………”

(Source: “Hypnosis shown to reduce symptoms of dementia”

Menopause – suffered by all ageing women.  Even though exercise helps keep the body strong and healthy as well as alleviate menopause symptoms in some women, it may not necessarily be the best menopause remedy.  Hypnosis can relieve just about any menopausal symptoms such as stress, anxiety, insomnia, hot flashes, etc if performed correctly.  This is the power of our mind and clinical hypnosis helps us to harness this power in a useful and functional way.  For example, “hot flashes – estrogens plays a role in regulating the temperature in the brain.  When estrogens levels drop, the brain thinks the body is overheating, and goes into emergency cool down mode which results in excessive sweating and releasing heat through the skin.  Due to the fact that hot flashes are clearly a malfunction of the brain, the mind can be used to influence the body by hypnotically cooling down hot flashes.” For a woman suffering from this condition learning the art of self-hypnosis will help her to adjust her own responses to her changing body.

(Source: “Is Hypnosis an effective menopause remedy?” by Stu Pearson, 13 Dec 2007, Health care industry community)

The older members of our community are a valuable resource. They have lived through many experiences and the fact that they are still here with us is testimony to what the new generation of what can be achieved. As grandparents, the older person can contribute from a position of expertise. The art to be learned here is tact and diplomacy yet sharing from a hands-on experience and knowledge. This is only possible when our older community have learned to recognise their value and are living happy lives of wellness and well-being.

But expertise from the older person is not simply limited to family or community matters. Many older people have good education and their advancing years also mean that they have the advantage of long perspectives and the direct experience of what works. Clinical Hypnosis can help many older people recognise their inner worth and the repeated experience of self-hypnosis maintains a healthy locus of control which allow them to share their experience and for the new and future generations to benefit, creating a healthy and dynamic community.

The LCCH works in conjunction with the Academy of Family Physicians Malaysia to provide safe and effective hypnotherapy for patients.

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