Los Angeles Jewish Home's Blog

Unconventional Practices for Practical Purposes

It's always interesting to see how Eastern medicinal techniques make their way into Western practices. Today's posts in The New Old Age, an award winning blog sponsored by The New York Times, talks about the use of reiki in special care centers to help people with dementia.

Home Care Partners, a nonprofit home care agency in Washington, won a two-year grant from the federal Administration on Aging to give it a try and has just finished training 36 aides in reiki. Next year, the agency will offer reiki training to family caregivers and to workers at adult day programs.

“It relieves stress, it reduces anxiety and it can help diminish pain,” said Marie Muller, the agency’s education manager and a trained reiki master. “We hope that our clients with dementia who become agitated and stressed will find reiki calming” — and thus will be less disturbed when aides help them bathe or dress or eat.

Reiki is the ancient Japanese practice of channeling universal energy to heal or, at the very least, soothe a person in need. And in addition to senior care facilities, some hospitals are experimenting with the practice.

At Portsmouth General Hospital in New Hampshire, for instance, two staff practitioners and a half dozen volunteers offer free reiki to all patients, family members and staff, last year providing more than 2,100 sessions.

“People say they just feel comforted,” said Christina Niles, the hospital’s reiki director, citing patient surveys. “I personally believe reiki is healing. Not everyone at the hospital agrees, but everyone thinks that people feel better afterward.”

In a recent Jewish Home Feature Article, Dr. Edward Schneider explained that Eastern and Western medicine can complement one another. What would be interesting to know definitively, though, is whether reiki can physically heal, or whether the presence of a calm caregiver or peaceful music simply puts dementia patients at ease.

What do you think?

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,