The Elder Healer Project

The Elder Healer Program promotes healthy aging by teaching elders fundamentals of Healing Touch which they can apply in caring for others in their families, their natural social networks, and through volunteer service in their communities. The purpose is to help elders develop caregiving skills that contribute to a greater sense of meaning, life purpose and interpersonal connectedness, thereby benefiting their own mental health and well-being. Optimal delivery of The Elder Healer Program is via a group educational experience in community-based settings such as senior centers, retirement communities and other programs which provide life enrichment opportunities for the elderly.

The initial study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (grant #R43AG24016-01), conducted workshops with sixty elders. Feasibility was demonstrated by significant increases in perceived self-efficacy and use of touch in interpersonal caregiving, evidence of significant associations between use of touch and mental health and well-being, and evidence of positive impact of the training on personal development.

We are now exploring new options for how to further develop and expand the program. The ultimate goal of The Elder Healer Program is to contribute to the public health by benefiting elders themselves as well as their families, friends and others in their natural social environment whom they will serve with their new skills.