Second Opinion Magazine
Reiki — A Help for Alzheimer’s
Reiki, the Japanese art of tapping into universal life force or Chi energy, has been found effective in treating and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. Patients with degenerative diseases of the brain, including Alzheimer’s, have shown promising improvements. There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s as this disease progresses, but Reiki can be a useful tool to enhance quality of life and reduce stress for patients, family caregivers and facilities.
Caregivers like Kim, an Activities Specialist in a large nursing care facility in Missouri, which provides specialized care for Alzheimer’s patients, sees and experiences the difficulty in obtaining cooperation with the patients of Alzheimer’s every day. In the early stages patients’ symptoms are subtle, like memory loss, personality changes, poor judgment, or agitation. The progression of the disease causes greater difficulty in the ability to speak, communicate, move and coordinate. The emotional toll and stress is great for the patient and it shows in his or her behavior. Kim and other caregivers note that the agitation, pacing and anxiety often increases toward the early evening, the part of the day that they would have been returning from work, making supper or partaking in other normal daily transitions. The patients exhibiting such behaviors are described as having a “sun-downer” time. This creates stress and difficulty for the patient and caregivers who need their cooperation to facilitate their care, treatment and feeding. This further escalates into needing more skilled caregivers, increased stress levels for all, and bodies under stress often requiring higher medicine dosages than bodies not under stress.
Therese Silva Johnson, a certified gerontologist and former owner-operator and administrator of a 24-hour care home, introduced Reiki treatments and found patients did become more compliant and relaxed. She found over time even as the disease progressed, that her patients’ degree of symptoms were not that of the traditional patient. Levels of anxiety, agitation, pain and other physical discomforts were reduced. The sun-downer symptoms of pacing, wandering and agitation also showed reduction. Their level of care was better as the level of stress was reduced for the patient and the caregivers.
Reducing stress and increasing the quality of life for patients and caregivers is the challenge. Most often, the caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients in the early stages are family members with limited resources. Reiki treatments of 10-20 minutes (as needed) can provide relaxation for the patient and better compliance for the caregiver.
As patients continue to decline, their behavior also will change. Sleeping may become an issue or sun-downer’s behavior may increase. Routine Reiki enables the body’s cell memory to respond more easily, bringing the patient back into a sense of well-being, improved moods, and better sleep (often with less or no medication). Their minds may not be able to connect well, but their memory recognizes the soothing and balancing effects.
In providing Reiki, healing touch, and other energy therapy treatments to older patients over the years (as a care provider in the community and through L. E. Phillips Senior Center), I have witnessed how it has helped individuals improve their sleep and pre- and post-surgical recovery, reduce cold and flu symptoms, and decrease fatigue. Others have reported a greater sense of peace, less depression, more mental clarity, better physical balance, reduced pain with chronic conditions, fuller sense of well-being, and more energy.
Reiki and Healing Touch also are very helpful in enhancing and healing the emotional and spiritual levels as well. This has been shown by recent results of the IARP (International Association of Reiki Professionals) survey of American hospitals. Many major hospitals are now recognizing and using Reiki for its therapeutic benefits. Using Chi, the life force energy, which we are all made of, enhances the body’s natural abilities to heal and maintain itself. It not only can enhance the body’s ability to heal from most any illness, it has also been used to enhance the mending of bone and tissue and to reduce the side effects of anesthesia, radiation treatments, and chemotherapy. It promotes deep relaxation, a strong sense of well-being for the individual, which in turn can reduce the need of medication and reduce hospital stays.
Reiki and other energy therapies, like Healing Touch, can improve quality of life and care treatment for the Alzheimer’s patient by enhancing the abilities of caregivers to provide the best care to patients who are more at ease and relaxed. Reduced stress and better compliance by the Alzheimer’s patient will enhance the facility’s ability to provide quality care and keep the costs of care under control as the need increases.
It is important to note Reiki is used as a complement to conventional care, not as a replacement.
Sandi Anderson CHT, R.M., K.T. of Healing Intentions Transformational Life & Soul Counselor, Energetic Healer, Facilitator & Consultant