Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Benefits of Massage in Dementia and Alzheimer's - Guest Post

I am a fan of massage therapy.  Massage has helped to alleviate my chronic neck and back pain - the result of years of lifting my son Nicholas, who is now 25 and is disabled with cerebral palsy.  But I have also used massage a tool to soothe my mother's muscles and even to comfort my mother in law as she lay dying in hospital.  If you care for a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia, you may wish to learn more about the benefits of massage.  

As a caregiver, you are constantly looking for treatments that will benefit those you take care of. But you may have overlooked the one treatment that has been around for a long time—massage. Massage is more than a relaxing rubdown. It also has a number of therapeutic effects that may very likely help improve the lives of your loved ones.

Geriatric massage therapy is specifically designed with the needs of seniors in mind. This type of massage incorporates gentle and light techniques that can include passive stretching of the muscles. A light oil or lotion is typically applied to the skin so that the skin isn’t irritated while the muscles are being worked.


As a caregiver, it would be a good idea to accompany your loved one to help them relax and have a comfortable experience. As you would with any activity, make sure to communicate with your loved one’s doctor their intent to have a massage. If your loved one is concerned about their modesty, assure them that they can decide on the amount of clothing they wear.  If they wish, only the area being worked on will be exposed.

The effects of massage on those with Alzheimer’s have met with mixed reviews. Many claim it has a calming effect on the sufferer. Those with Alzheimer’s are frustrated and anxious because they struggle to communicate with others. Massage acts as a non-verbal means of communication. In one study a group receiving hand massages while being talked to in a calm voice reported lower pulse rates and reduced inappropriate behavior. The effectiveness may be due to a combination of its relaxing effect in addition to providing a form of social interaction.

Those suffering from infirmities may experience relief from conditions including arthritis, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The following list includes a number of other benefits that massage offers.


Muscle relaxation
Regular massage helps keep muscles limber and reduces the number of phantom aches and pains that come with growing older. Gentle massage helps stretch the muscles and over time can increase flexibility.

Improved circulation
Massage facilitates blood circulation by forcing blood through congested areas. The gentle squeezing and pulling also moves toxins out of muscles and increases the flow of lymph fluids, which contribute to a healthy immune system.

Less anxiety
Those suffering from anxiety and depression benefit from massage. Massage reduces tension and also provides the therapeutic effects of human touch to those deprived of regular human contact. Massage is also reported to increase feelings of overall well-being.

Improved balance and posture
Massage stimulates the body’s awareness and circulation especially in the feet and hands where blood flow may be constricted. It helps muscles improve their range of motion and flexibility, both of which contribute to better co-ordination.

Massage is more than a skin-deep treatment. It provides more health benefits than just a relaxing rub down. The benefits are numerous enough that a caregiver may want to consider them as another avenue to helping their loved ones lead more fulfilling lives.


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