Reiki Also Helps Caregiver Burnout
The Reiki studies reviewed above apply to caregivers as well as patients. The Family Caregiver Alliance reports in general that “…20% of family caregivers suffer from depression, twice the rate of the general population.” When it comes specifically to dementia caregivers, “…41% of former caregivers of a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia experienced mild to severe depression up to three years after their spouse had died. In general, women caregivers experience depression at a higher rate than men.” Covinsky, et al. (2003) report the number with depression to be one-third of primary caregivers during the period while they are caring for their loved ones with dementia.
Nurses are an excellent group to study when it comes to caregiver burnout and Reiki. Many nurses have added Reiki to their skills, and they are a population prone to burnout and compassion fatigue. Studies involving nurses’ self-care have demonstrated that Reiki can help prevent and heal caregiver stress and overwhelm. Nurses who practiced Reiki on themselves reported that they choose to do so for daily stress management and self-healing, among other reasons (Vitale, 2009). Perceived stress was also significantly reduced among nurses learning Reiki, though less so if they did not practice self-help Reiki during the study (Cuneo, 2011). In a study of nurses with “burnout syndrome,” Reiki was found to provide a significant relaxation response (Diaz-Rodriguez, et al., 2011).
It can be challenging to return to warm, caring feelings following caregiver burnout. Brathovde (2006) and Whelan and Wishnia (2003) reported increased self-satisfaction with nurses’ work, and a returned ability to feel caring toward others after the nurses had received Reiki training and used it on both themselves and others.
Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias cannot be cured. People live for many years with the disease, which takes a huge toll both on them and their caregivers. As many effective tools as possible are needed to help manage ADRD and improve quality of life for everyone involved. Empowering family and professional dementia caregivers with Reiki skills can help meet many needs. For both patients and caregivers alike, calmness, improved moods, increased memory capability, reduced pain, and healing from caregiver burnout can be the help so many have been waiting for.
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