Massage Therapy For Seniors With Dementia

iuOther types of dementia include Lewy body dementia and frontotemporal dementia. A person can suffer from more than one type of the disease.

Efforts at state and federal levels strive to treat this disease without the use of anti-psychotic medication. One natural method that helps those suffering from dementia is massage. Because they don’t receive a lot of human touch, many older people experience feelings of loneliness, isolation and anxiety. Older adults who live with serious health conditions are especially receptive to a loving touch. They don’t often receive touch from health care providers, but older persons have reported that touch helps them feel safe and cared for.

Hand massage is something that dementia patients may especially benefit from. Five minutes of hand massage has been shown to cause the release of relaxing hormones and the decrease of cortisol levels. Low cortisol levels ensure a better sleep and a stronger immune system. Massage has also been shown to increase serotonin, the neurochemical responsible for mood regulation and relaxation. Agitated dementia patients have displayed a reduction in irritability lasting for up to one hour following a five- to 10-minute hand massage session. According to a 2010 study performed by Suzuki, both aggressive behavior and stress levels decreased significantly following hand massage.

Another massage method found to be affective is the slow-stroke back massage. Slow-stroke back massage uses long, rhythmic hand movements known as effleurage. One slow-stroke back method involves a figure-eight pattern on each side of the back. Massage stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and antidepressants. Back massage also affects the autonomic nervous system, causing the person to relax. A simple three to five minute massage session of slow-stroke back massage has been proven to:

• Decrease anxiety
• Lull to sleep
• Ease pain
• Decrease agitation including care resistance and pacing
• Decrease blood pressure and heart rate

Foot massage is often readily accepted by those who may not feel comfortable with a back massage. As with any other type of massage, foot massages help promote sleep, ease pain and decrease anxiety. Studies have shown that 10-minute foot massages decreased verbal aggression and repetitive movements after two weeks of treatment for both men and women.

Touch is a language of the human heart. Giving a dementia patient the gift of touch can help him or her remember their worth by giving them a sense of love and care and easing the negative effects of the disease.