Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reiki and the dementia patient

She kept calling out repeatedly for help, with a loud, shrill, shaky voice.  HELP, HELP, HELP, HELP….” I could not comfort her or reassure her that she was okay, nor could I get her to stop yelling for help.  The staff was getting weary and the other patients thought we were killing her…that fragile little 98 year old women with dementia in room 8. 
She came to our ER from a nursing home with the complaint of, “she won’t stop yelling for help and this is not her normal behavior.”  We worked her up for altered mental status~ and none of the tests revealed a reason for her behavior change… I tried everything to calm her; I dimmed the lights, I sat and held her hand, I turned the TV on and then off, I repositioned her repeatedly and called her daughter (who was in Florida).  The morning rolled on and she kept yelling.
The ER traffic flow subsided somewhat and an opportunity arose for me to have 15 uninterrupted moments with this women.  I turned off the lights, closed the door, turned on some music and performed Reiki on her.  I started from her head and went to her feet.  At first she didn’t appear to even realize I was there, let alone gently laying my hands on her head.  After approx. 2min she stopped yelling.  I continued.  The room was silent except for the soft music… I watched the monitor~ her pulse went from 112 to 88, her blood pressure went from 160/98 to 142/80 and her respirations went from 32 to 18. 
By the time I reached her pelvis, she was asleep.  She remained asleep for an hour and when she awoke she no longer cried for help.  The ER doc on duty that day was a skeptic of the power of Reiki~ he is no longer a skeptic! I gave report to the Nursing Home and sent her back…happy.
I took Reiki as a nursing elective last summer during my BSN classes…I have used it on many of my co-workers, family and patients.  The immediate relaxation it brings is amazing and powerful.  I do not often have time in the ER to perform Reiki on my patients but what a blessing it was for that elderly woman that day…and my co-workers love the 5min head and shoulder Reiki session at the nurses station!!
As nurses we have so many interventions available to us to relieve pain and suffering…it seems that in the last half of my nursing career the interventions went from physically assisting to chemically assisting~ I LOVE that we are now heading in a direction that allows us to get back to our roots…laying our hands on our patients is “old school” but it is what is lacking in our care today. Reiki, aromatherapy, hand massage, light touch, maybe even an old fashion bed bath and simply sitting and talking/listening to our patients are interventions that are free, and powerful…and according to the surveys on patient satisfaction~ those interventions are what get the most BRAVO’s from the patient.  These interventions allow us to be present with our patients…showing them that we do care about their issue and them.  These interventions also are what bring the most satisfaction to me as I care for my patients…


  1. Beautiful story Bobbi! Thank you for sharing :)

    1. My pleasure~ My hope is to get more nurses performing alternative therapies...

    2. Bobbi,
      Do you ever encounter resistance to Reiki? I was excited about the possibility to do energy work, but after reading more about the actual practice, I struggle with whether or not Reiki would be a good fit for me as a Christian. I have actually read negative accounts/experiences...but am also aware that you can find *ANY*thing on the internet!
      Thanks for your feedback!

    3. Jen~ Such a good question. I am a Christian and I was hesitant at first as well because of all the wording...I do Reiki in my own way...I ground myself before doing Reiki by praying to God for guidance and for being a vessel of healing to whoever I am performing Reiki on, then as I am performing the Reiki I am silently praying for that person, their family, thier health and for healing...I have made Reiki a way to lay hands on someone and pray for them~

  2. What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing. Reiki is amazing, isn't it? Just for today... Reiki Nurse, Meredith Kendall ~

  3. Yes Meredith, Reiki is amazing and Im so glad to have the opportunity to pass it on to others!!

  4. Awesome....awesome...
    awesome. Reiki SuccessCoach Jen

  5. Thanks Jennifer~ share your stories!!