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Reiki for Senior Care
By Philip Buttenfield, LCSW, JD

One of the most difficult - and at the same time most beautiful - passages in our lives is that time when we begin to take on parental roles toward our parents. As those we love begin the inevitable decline, many of us find ourselves taking on more and more responsibility for their well being. It is a sad time because it brings us face to face with the reality that life ends; it is nonetheless a beautiful time because it offers us the opportunity to give back to those who gave us life, and to share this necessary transition with them.

An important part of our duties at this stage in our parents' lives is finding appropriate medical care for them. Seniors have special needs, most commonly arising from multiple medical conditions as the body's integrity is gradually compromised. This often requires treatment by multiple physicians. Balancing the sometimes conflicting demands of treatment for these conditions can be a real challenge, in no small part due to the fact that doctors do not always have updated information about what other physicians are prescribing for their shared patients. The potential for problems created by polypharmacy (the prescription of multiple medications by different doctors) is only one of the ways that traditional medicine can actually get in its own way.

Reiki, a hands-on energy healing modality, is one form of treatment that does not interact with any medication, and thus does not create any treatment conflicts. Because it activates the recipient's own natural healing mechanisms, Reiki is an effective supplemental treatment for a variety of needs, ranging from simple stress to end-of-life palliative care. Reiki practitioners can provide care in the senior's residence, reducing the need for transportation and thus increasing comfort. Reiki is a regular service offered in many hospices, through staff or volunteers.

Moreover, because Reiki training is brief and inexpensive, relatives and friends of seniors can become Reiki providers for their loved ones, and can offer this soothing treatment as regularly as desired, even on a daily basis.

Philip Buttenfield is a principal of Key Stone Reiki, an association of independent Reiki practitioners; see their website at www.KeyStoneReiki.com. Philip also offers psychotherapeutic and Reiki services through his private practice, Green Stone Therapies - www.greenstonetherapies.com. He can be reached at (412) 805-6811 or greenstone1@verizon.net.

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