Hand-under-Hand as a State of Mind

Hand-under-Hand as a State of Mind post page

Beth A. D. Nolan

By Beth A. D. NolanMarch 19th, 2020

Hand-under-Hand as a State of Mind

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by Beth A.D. Nolan, Ph.D.,

PAC Director of Research and Policy and שי פלקובסקי (Shai Chayen Palkovski), PAC Certified Independent Coach


This next journal entry is one from a skilled PAC Certified Independent Coach, Shai Chayen Palkovski, from Israel, who saw Hand-under-Hand®  (HuH) a different way. For those of us unfamiliar with Jewish traditions, here’s a little background: a few of Shai’s residents were no longer able to complete their morning prayers because their dementia prevented them from putting on the tefillin. Tefillin are cubic black leather boxes with leather straps that Orthodox Jewish men wear on their head and arm during weekday morning prayer. Observant Jewish men consider wearing tefillin to be a very great mitzvah (command).

Compounding this loss of skill is that many Orthodox Jewish men are shomer negiah or observant of touch, someone who refrains from physical contact with individuals of the opposite sex, except immediate family members. Exceptions such as a male doctor treating a female patient are permitted, or in Shai’s case, a therapist assisting a person living with dementia to put on the teffllin.

For those of us familiar with dementia, the problem becomes clear: if I, as an Orthodox Jewish man living with dementia, no longer see you as a care partner who is assisting me putting on my tefillin, how can you convince me to allow Hand-under-Hand assistance so I can complete my morning prayers as I have done my entire adult life?

Shai’s video is her amazing first try with Positive Action Starters and HuH with her physical therapist colleague. I hope it will inspire you to explore bringing spirituality back into others’ lives with (sometimes) minimal touch.  Without further ado, please enjoy this wonderful article:

Hand-under-Hand as a State of Mind

By שי פלקובסקי (Shai Chayen Palkovski)

Prefers to use the title: Learner

Learning Hand-under-Hand, in my experience, was more than a technique. It was like learning a life philosophy, a way of communicating, and respecting the person in front of me as opposed to dealing or treating him.

Coming from a country full of different cultures and religions, I had to find a way to implement Hand-under-Hand without the hands for some of my patients. That’s when it came to me that Hand-under-Hand is my state of mind when approaching a person living with dementia, it’s the way I look at him, and what energy I bring to the room.

I feel this journey has just begun, thanks to Teepa, I feel there is a great path in front of me I want and can walk through. Thanks to Beth (my mentor), I’m doing it.


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