Over the last two months, we’ve 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. So far we’ve looked at types one through six 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 4, 5, and 6. If you want to read about those, take a look here. Here is an overview of the last three basic types on the Enneagram (7, 8, and 9) and how each one might respond to a loved one being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia:
Type 7: The Enthusiast or the Adventurer: Of all the types, sevens are the least comfortable with negative emotions and situations. They want to avoid conflict or situations where bad feelings might arise. Sevens are often happy-go-lucky people, full of charm, charisma, and joy. They want to have a good time wherever they go, and they want to have the freedom to make their own decisions. Sevens are motivated by the need to enjoy life, be free from constraints, and avoid pain or negative emotions. When faced with a loved one who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, this type might struggle with how to respond. They may have to wrestle through their own dislike of negative feelings to come alongside and care for their loved one. But once they are able to face it, sevens will work hard to ensure their loved one is well cared for, able to have fun and enjoyable experiences in their life, and find the light side of a painful situation.
Type 8: The Challenger or The Protector: Eights are the fierce protectors on the Enneagram. They fight for the underdog and the weak. Eights tend to be intense, sometimes intimidating, take charge, and assertive. They know what they want and the best way to do it, and they go after it with ferocity. When faced with a loved one who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, this type might be quick to take charge. They would figure out the best option, and they would do it quickly and efficiently. Eights would be sure their loved one is intensely well taken care of.
Type 9: The Peacemaker or The Mediator: Nines are the type on the Enneagram that are most able to identify with everyone else. They have a special ability to see all sides of an issue and help others see it as well. They can be quietly stubborn, gentle, easy-going, and scheduled. Nines are motivated by the need to keep the peace and avoid conflict. When faced with a loved one who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, this type might first struggle to make a decision on the best form of care, receiving conflicting input and not sure how to reconcile that. But once they are able to make a decision, this type would go out of their way to ensure the comfort and care of their loved one. They would visit often, sacrificing their own time and needs for their loved one.
As you can see, we are all very different, and we all differ in our response to a hard situation. Even though there are only nine types on the Enneagram, even within each type, we will all have our quirks and subtleties on how we handle memory loss and memory care. The goal of seeing each other and how we each do it, is to recognize that there is no one right way to grieve and no one right way to make decisions.