Compassionate Care for the Alzheimer Patient and Their Caretakers
By Janet Goldenbogen-Self, RN, QTTT
Published in 2007 Peninsula Daily News HEALTHY LIVING
Effective resources for the elderly and their caretakers is a continual
quest. Therapeutic Touch (TT), a gentle energy balancing modality, is a
highly researched technique repeatedly proven to aid this
population on many levels.
In the early 70’s Dolores Krieger, RN, PhD and Dora Kunz, president of
the Theosophical Society developed a contemporary version of
hands-on-healing where the practitioner uses their hands to facilitate
the innate healing abilities of the client. Since that time Therapeutic
Touch has been widely researched, taught and received all over the
world because it works!
I’d like to cite an important study that tested the efficacy of TT both
behaviorally and physiologically by attempting to decrease the frequency
of agitated actions and levels of salivary and urine cortisol stress hormone in persons
with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). From Woods, D.L. and Dimond, M (1) “Ten
subjects with moderate to severe AD, aged 71-84 years old, residing in a
special care unit, were observed every 20 minutes for 10 hours/day,
monitored 24 hours/day for physical activity, and had daily samples taken
for salivary and urine cortisol. (cortisol levels are noted to increase
with stress). TT was administered by the Primary Investigator for 5-7
minutes, twice a day for three days. Analysis showed significant decrease
in overall agitated behavior and in two specific behaviors: vocalization… and pacing or walking during and after treatment. A decreasing trend over time
was noted for salivary and urine cortisol.”
Many other research studies and 20 years of using Therapeutic Touch (TT)
in my own nursing practice has shown the following to be results from
this intentional, gentle, comforting energy balancing work:
- Elicits the relaxation response
- Decreases anxiety
- Decreases pain
- Enhances wound healing
- Strengthens immune response
- Provides family and caretaker relief
I’ d like to delve into my personal-story archives to show you how
one family was helped by their profoundly simple, yet simply profound TT
experience. Lorraine was a 75 year old woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
Disease and adult failure to thrive. I was asked to see her by the local
hospital’s hospice where I work as a comfort therapist providing
Therapeutic Touch. Lorraine lived with her daughter’s family. The family
was very open to my coming. They heard of Therapeutic Touch, but
weren’t exactly sure what it was or what I’d be doing.
When I arrived the first time, Lorraine was in bed. She gave me a big smile and thought
I was an old friend of hers. I sat with Lorraine and began to tell her
and the family about TT, explaining to them that when we are not well the energy patterns of mind/body/spirit are out of order. To regain a sense of wellness, (not necessarily cure), these energy patterns must be returned to order. This is what TT does.
During a TT session, which lasts no more than 30 minutes, the practitioner puts
themself into a calm state and asks the client (if they are mentally
lucid and able) to do the same. A clear intention for whatever the
client is asking for i.e. pain relief, peace, ability to sleep, or
perhaps for reconciliation with a family member to occur is clearly
stated quietly during the session. The practitioner then gently
assesses, clears, smoothes and reorders the client’s energy field patterns
moving their hands in a rhythmical, flowing manner. I also offered to give family members short TT sessions so they would be able to feel what Lorraine was experiencing.
Each week was so different with Lorraine, sometimes she would easily
allow a session and fall asleep. Other times when she was very agitated
and vocalizing, I would talk to her calmly with intention and discreetly
provide TT. The family asked that I use peace and release of fear as
intentions for the TT energy balancing. As time went on, it was
sometimes difficult to see changes in Lorraine, however, the family
became more peaceful, less afraid and more able to handle Lorraine’s
care taking duties, thus Lorraine also became more at peace.
TT carefully teaches to not be attached to the outcome of the session.
When the intention is placed the universal plan seems to take over. In
this case TT was helping the family in general.
Therapeutic Touch (www.therapeutic-touch.org) is a highly regulated
research and educational entity. The Nurse-Healers-Professional
Associates International, Inc. has set a rigid standard of care for the
ethics, legality and teaching of Therapeutic Touch, and now offered
throughout the world in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted
living facilities, home care and hospice. I feel honored to be able to
offer this service to individuals and families. It is a safe, non- invasive
method that can help bring balance to anyone with any condition.
(1)Woods, D.L. and Dimond, M. (2002, October). The Effect of Therapeutic
Touch on agitated behavior and cortisol in persons with Alzheimer’s
disease, Biological Research for Nursing, Vol. 4, No. 2, 104-114.
Janet Goldenbogen-Self, RN is a qualified practitioner and teacher of
Therapeutic Touch with the NH-PAI. She is in private practice in
Port Townsend providing Therapeutic Touch to clients in
her office, private homes, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes. She also
teaches individuals and groups Therapeutic Touch. There is no
need to be a health care practitioner to learn TT. Classes are scheduled on a regular rotating basis. She can be reached at 360-379-8134