Last month, we looked at the Enneagram and how it shows us how we, as very different people, may handle our feelings, emotions, and actions when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
To review, there are nine basic types on the Enneagram. I will go through all of them in reference to how each type would respond to having a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Each type will most likely react differently to a hard diagnosis, as well as to what living situations are worked out for their loved one. Memory and memory care are sensitive subjects, and we all have different complicated feelings around them. What you may do in a situation like this is very different than what someone else may do. But it doesn’t mean that one of you is wrong, it just means that we as people approach life differently with different sets of motivations in play.
Last month we looked at types 1, 2, and 3. If you want to read about those, take a look here. Here is an overview of the next three basic types on the Enneagram (4,5, and 6) and how each one might respond to a loved one being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia:
Type 4: The Individualist or the Artist: Of all the types, fours are the most comfortable with sitting in emotions and letting them come as they may. They don’t feel the need to fix other people or their feelings, and are okay being in hard places and having hard feelings. This person is motivated by the need to be unique, to stand out from a crowd, and to experience a wide range of feelings. Fours want the world around them to be beautiful and unique. They feel things deeply and they often feel that something is missing from their lives, some essential piece. When faced with a loved one who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, this type might be the one to just go sit with their loved one, to let them experience all their grief and confusion and anger. They might also be the ones to create a beautiful room or space for their loved one, full of mementos and decorations that are unique and special to that person.
Type 5: The Observer or the Investigator: Fives are the number on the Enneagram that have the lowest capacity for social energy. They have a certain threshold each day, and once that is met, they need to escape for a recharge. Fives want to know how everything works. They have vacuum cleaner eyes, taking everything in and observing the world around them. When faced with a loved one who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, this type might dive into research on the best ways to care for them, the best living situations, and the best medications. They will focus their attention on facts and what those say about the best options.
Type 6: The Loyalist or the Questioner: Sixes have a need for security and guidance. They tend to threat forecast: paying attention to what’s around them and what could go wrong in any given situation. They are also incredibly loyal and once they make a commitment to something, they will rarely back out of it. Sixes are motivated by the need to be safe, have alliances with people, and not be left without support. When faced with a loved one who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, this type might go through all of the worst-case scenarios first, and then land on a plan that feels safe, secure, and emotionally supportive for both people.
Make sure to come back next month to hear about the final three types and how they may react to memory care and memory loss in a loved one.