Massage, therapeutic touch, and calm physical presence have been noted as viable alternatives for Alzheimer’s and dementia treatments since 1990.
Past and current studies involving therapeutic touch indicate “non-pharmacological interventions showing the most consistency and promise involve sensory.”
These therapies include:
- massage/touch therapies
- pet therapy
Why don’t more Alzheimer’s Patients Get Massage Therapy?
Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s patients are an under-served segment for massage and bodywork modalities. Some family members and caretakers associate massage with the deep tissue massages they have received and fear a massage would be hard on elderly loved ones. Massage for Alzheimer’s patients and massage for the elderly is more often a soothing combination of touch, massage, and ‘deep listening’.
Massage therapists concentrate on shoulders, head, neck, and face with gentle rotations and fingertip friction. If the response is positive with the massage for an Alzheimer’s patient, lower back, hips, and feet are included to help with range of motion and age-related joint stiffness.
Does Massage for Alzheimer’s Patients Target Specific Symptoms?
Restlessness and disruptive vocalization are two of the most concerning behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients. Results from a 2005 trial by Diana Lynn Woods; The Effect of Therapeutic Touch on Behavioral Symptoms of Persons with Dementia. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine showed a decrease in both restlessness and disruptive vocalization.
Results of the trial indicated:
- Manual manipulation (restlessness) and vocalization showed a significant decrease in the Therapeutic Touch group as compared to controls and placebo
- Behavioral symptoms also showed a significant change from pre- to post-intervention for Therapeutic Touch as compared to placebo and control groups.
- Observations from staff (even those unaware of the study) commented on they observed decreased patient agitation and a more calm environment
Why Perform Massage For Alzheimer Patients?
For patients who are living in a state of confusion, a calming massage can relax, reassure, and comfort. Caretakers and patients benefit from the relaxing, meditative results from the calming touch and grounded state provided by a massage.
Alzheimer’s / Dementia patients get a momentary respite from the racing thoughts, discomfort, and bewilderment they live with day-to-day. As a non-pharmacologic approach, massage can be a low-cost, effective strategy for dealing with behavioral symptoms such as wandering and restlessness that can endanger a patient.
A massage helps bring Alzheimer’s patients back to the present and returns them to their bodies to deeply relax and relish human contact. For those who are separated from family and friends, this caring, gentle touch can ease the fear and loneliness often associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
All Body Kneads is honored to work with your family member, friend, or patient who is living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. We use a specially formulated lotion to address the thinning skin of elderly patients and we make sure the space is always warm, serene, and welcoming.
The reality is the caregiver—whether he or she is a spouse, adult child, relative, or friend—is the single most challenged, misunderstood, and ignored participant in the care and treatment of a person with Alzheimer’s disease.” ~ Porter Shimer
Call today to schedule an appointment for a patient or for yourself. 517-898-2899