Reiki and Dementia

Anita Graham is a Reiki master near Seattle who attended Reiki and Medicine in March 2008.

“The seminar gave me invaluable practice in how to talk about Reiki in a simple and objective way, and be true to my personal experience,” Anita said. “When I took that confidence and clarity into hospice and a surgery unit, Reiki and I were welcomed by staff. The nurses handed me a list of surgery patients when I arrived on the unit, and hospice staff actively look to refer families for Reiki treatment. I have also found that family members more frequently request continuing Reiki care for their loved ones. The skills I learned in the Medical Reiki class are still paying dividends.”

Anita shares her experience treating people with dementia as a GUEST BLOGGER.

by Anita Graham

Very recently I treated an 86-year-old woman while volunteering at my local hospital. She was there because of a concussion from a fall. I could see she was withdrawn and confused. As we finished the Reiki treatment she asked if I made house calls. I said yes and thought no more about it.

The next day her husband phoned asking for an appointment. He explained that she had been diagnosed 10 years ago with general dementia. Her family was amazed that she asked that question of me, and moreover that she remembered after I left the room that she wanted more of the same. I found out at the first house call that she had been a yoga teacher and meditator for many years. Her husband speculated that she recognized a similar energy in the Reiki touch.

Another time, I treated a frail 88-year-old with Parkinson’s-related dementia. The staff at her facility reported she was mute. About 10 minutes into the treatment she spoke and said, “I’ve never had anything like this before.” At the end of the treatment she related that she was on a train going “home.” I felt moved in witnessing this woman’s expression of comfort and making sense out of her dying process.

Many studies indicate that we humans require touch not only to survive, but to thrive. The necessity for touch doesn’t disappear with age or mental and physical frailty. Reiki treatment offers non-invasive, safe and restful touch. I often treat people with dementia and confusion and continue to experience awe that the gentle power of Reiki touches them at the deepest levels of their being.


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8 thoughts on “Reiki and Dementia”

  1. Susan, thank you for your comment.

    In my years practicing Reiki in health care settings, I have seen time and again how the greatest impact comes when we practice quietly, giving the staff space to notice the effects and reach out to learn more, in their own time. Until we have witnessed some of the benefits of Reiki treatment, which are generally even more obvious in health care settings than at home, they can seem too good to be true. Once health care staff how reliably Reiki treatment helps people, they of course are interested.

    And when they ask for information, we have to be careful not to say too much, and not to use language that is off-putting, and not to be too enthusiastic in our response.

  2. Susan Andrews, MS, APRN

    Hi, Pamela,
    Thank you for your beautiful and interactive website. It is a gift to all, Reiki practitioners and seekers alike.
    I had started offering Reiki to my mother-in-law shortly after learning the practice. As she aged and deteriorated due to the effects of time and Alzheimer’s Disease and my father-in-law accompanied her with his decline due to aging and cancer, they moved to a wonderful facility down the block from our home. It was an overwhelming time for our whole family when they both entered into hospice care. I was blessed to be able to participate in their care and my own self-care through the gift of Reiki, which eased our combined pain. One day on leaving them, one of the nurses asked what I did with them, as they were so peaceful after I left. I spoke about Reiki and this evolved into my offering a class to their staff. In gratitude for the excellent care the staff offered to them, I applied for and was able to offer them nursing contact hours for the class. As we know, our own practice evolves and grows and the staff’s practice did as well. The nurses use Reiki with the residents as they go about their day and their Recreation staff now offers Reiki to the residents on a regular basis. In addition they offer Reiki to each other and the entire staff as well. This difficult personal time transformed into a blessing through this wonderful practice of Reiki. I now work for a visiting nurse association as a Reiki practitioner in their hospice department, a deep blessing in my life. It provides me with the ability to use my skills as a nurse and Reiki practitioner. I am able to offer comfort to those who may not be able to express their needs but demonstrate their response to Reiki by a more peaceful and relaxed demeanor. My journey with Reiki has been amazing and I look forward to the ways it continues to unfold.

  3. I really enjoy reading stories about Reiki successes. I haven’t yet performed Reiki at medical care facilities. It must feel so good to help someone think clearly. I can hardly imaging the feeling of living in the fog of dimensia with little memory, and I imagine the Reiki is such a wonderful experience for these folks.

  4. beautiful experiences to be shared, indeed. thanks, Anita, Pamela, for access to same.
    my 98 yo dad and 93 yo mom have received Reiki from Anita, and liked it very much, and i am hereby inspired to give each a 20 minute minimum Reiki session weekly.

  5. It is so uplifting to read these sharings. I thank you all for taking the time to comment.

    Rosie, you write with such grace and beauty. Yes, the sacredness of Reiki is exquisitely revealed through the dying process.

  6. Having no knowledge of Reiki other than the reported benefit of “healing touch”, I specifically learned Reiki to use with my mom, who suffered greatly from the insidious effects of Parkinson’s as it strained her muscles & twisted her bones in league with the Alzheimer’s that attacked her brain. For many of those 15 years, she was recognized by most as being “unaware”, though Reiki clearly allowed her to understand my expressions of physical/verbal communications while prompting her own responses of emotion to me. We both rejoiced in the flow of energy that was continually enhanced by Reiki and for the 13 months gifted to share it, we honored this faithful exchange. Yet never was the sacredness of Reiki touch more evident than in the last 36 hours, as her body slowly embraced a blue, peaceful calm amidst the circling wagons of fever, lack of oxygen and organ failure.

    Even before that moment in March, a freind of mine in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s has noted, as does his wife, the clearer ability of perception and expressed thought that is found through the touch of Reiki. Merely 2 stories, but profound to the people who have stood in Reiki’s light.

  7. I have done Reiki on 2 people with Dementia. I went to my local care facility were people live who have diabilities, dementia etc. One gentlemen with Lewy Body Parkinsons who was in his own world & not very cognizant asked if he could have Reiki.His family agreed. I did Reiki on him for about 45 minutes. This was very unusual for him to stay still for that long a period of time. He would usually wonder off. He was calm during the treatment. Then after 45 mins he indicated he was finished with the session. When I came to that facility again to do Reiki he recognized me & would watch me do Reiki for a little. I also did Reiki weekly on a lady at a adult daycare. She really felt the benefits of the Reiki & every week I was there was one of the first to receive Reiki.

  8. Thank you Pamela and Anita for sharing this experience. It is lovely to read your story of working with people suffering from dementia.

    Reading your story is bringing up my experience of teaching my parents Reiki.
    I taught them Reiki about 2 years ago – they are in their 80s. Initially they were concerned if they would be able to learn Reiki at their age as they have trouble remembering things. I told them that giving Reiki to themselves is as simple as putting their hands on themselves, that reassured them and they learnt it. I asked them to place their hands on themselves when they are resting/lying down.

    It was wonderful to hear my father say a few days ago that Reiki gives him relief when he is suffering. They both self treat regularly. They still suffer from all sorts of problems related to old age, yet I am positive that Reiki is really supporting them.

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