The Benefits of Reiki for Seniors and End of Life Therapies
Caring for Our Aging Parents and Elders
Many seniors struggle with age-related discomforts that can significantly reduce the quality of life. Arthritis brings pain and stiffness to joints, injuries and surgeries can be slow to heal, and everyday life as a senior can be incredibly stressful. Fortunately, Reiki helps alleviate many of these discomforts associated with senior life.
Millions of people of all ages have enjoyed the benefits of Reiki, finding relief from pain, anxiety, indigestion, and insomnia that can lessen the quality of life. Sadly, many seniors have missed out on the therapeutic benefits of Reiki. Some have not heard of the approach while others shy away because they do not fully understand or appreciate the complementary healing potential of this gentle approach.
THE HEALING POWER OF TOUCH
The growing numbers of seniors who have tried Reiki respond quickly to it—most seniors become enthusiastic about the treatment after only one session. The healing power of touch brings the warmth of Reiki energy into stiff shoulders or sore feet, even for seniors who are normally sensitive to touch.
Most seniors enjoy Reiki and look forward to sessions---the dim lights, soothing music and comfortable atmosphere are appealing. Some seniors say they feel the benefits of Reiki immediately after a session while others say it takes a few days for the therapeutic effects to appear. A handful of seniors say they feel no benefit, but their family members and caretakers can notice improvements in the individual’s physical appearance or mood.
Depending on the individual’s mindset and physical condition, seniors may benefit form short Reiki sessions at first then move into full 60-minute sessions as their body learns how to open itself and accept treatment.
REIKI RELIEVES PAIN
Reiki helps loosen muscle tension, stimulates circulation, and soothes the nervous system. Seniors respond to Reiki because of the way it relieves pain from tight muscles, increases range of motion in arthritic or stiff joints, and even improves coordination to reduce the risk of falls and fall-related injuries. Reiki can speed healing from injuries and surgery, ease breathing, boost vitality, and rejuvenate energy and mental alertness. Reiki helps reduce the inflammation and pain the senior is having to deal with, which in most cases, leads to the use of less medications being taken to help with the pain.
This complementary therapy can provide benefits in ways seniors may not expect but certainly appreciate, including relief from dry and itchy skin, a more restful sleep, increased vitality, and mental alertness. Reiki can even foster a sense of contentment that can seem out of reach for seniors, especially those who struggle with serious health issues, chronic illness, depression, and mental health problems.
Patients with dementia can often benefit from touch when more traditional approaches cannot reach them. UCLA says there is one study that showed Reiki reduces stress, anxiety, and depression responses- - three conditions that affect many seniors, especially those with dementia.
REIKI BRINGS PEACE AND CALM
Reiki brings peace and calm to an advanced senior’s or elder’s world, sometimes filled with pain, disability, foggy memory, never-ending doctor appointments, and other problems that make even the smallest activity of daily living seem like a monumental challenge. These challenges have a profoundly disruptive effect on the flow of the older adult’s life force energy, and left unaddressed, can even exacerbate illness and dysfunction. The Reiki technique helps to reestablish proper energy flow to improve health and well-being of older adults.
REIKI IS A COMPLEMENTARY THERAPY
Fortunately, it is not an either/or relationship between Reiki and medical treatments—Reiki works in harmony with other treatments for age-related conditions. Reiki is a complementary therapy that enhances the therapeutic properties of medicines and medical techniques while optimizing the natural healing process that has slowed for many adults. In some cases, Reiki can even act as a catalyst for healing when the therapeutic benefits of standard medical approaches seem to come to a standstill.
Many medical professionals acknowledge the healing powers of Reiki. In fact, more than 800 hospitals in the USA now offer Reiki training as a means to accelerate the healing process and alleviate pain because these medical professionals now recognize the benefits of Reiki for seniors.
REIKI AND END OF LIFE THERAPY
For the end of life issues, Hospice studies show that Reiki addresses physical and emotional symptoms while improving quality of life during palliative care. Reiki promotes deep relaxation, pain management and relief from depression with less medication. It also facilitates release of anxiety, grief and fear, supporting positive emotional closure with loved ones and a calm, peaceful passing.
The goal of palliative therapy often focuses more on comfort rather than a cure for people suffering with terminal illnesses. Reiki is a therapy that can help promote comfort and one that is widely being sought after in the growing Hospice community.
Palliative therapy (such as Hospice) and complementary therapies (such as Reiki) have over the last decade developed within the medical society as a parallel philosophies of care. As a result we have seen an increase in the integration and usuage of complementary therapies like Reiki as adjunct therapies to conventional medical treatment.
Documented benefits of relaxation, decreased perception of pain, reduced anxiety and improved sense of wellbeing have been shown to enable an enhanced quality of life, where curative treatment is no longer an option. As an energy-healing intervention it has gained in popularity as a non-invasive and non-pharmacological approach. Reiki is becoming recognized as an alternative treatment, especially helpful in pain management.
** Portions of the article were summarized from "The Reiki Times", the official magazine of the International Association of Reiki Professionals. For more information go to www.iarp.org.