Massage Therapy and Dementia: A Touch Providing Great Care to Dementia Patients

If you have ever had a therapeutic massage and it helped you relax, eased your anxieties, and alleviated body pain, then that should give you an idea on how massage therapy can be beneficial people who have dementia. Memory care specialists who care for dementia clients with a holistic approach understand how beneficial massage therapy is. Good personal relationships are crucial to a proper care program for individuals with any form of dementia, and as a form of human interaction and touch therapy, massage addresses the need of patients to be assured that they will be all right and that they are safe. This way, massage is a good alternative to medications to minimize or ease the behavioral symptoms associated with dementia.

Certain forms of massage are relationship-centered, pro-active, and practical, making them effective in establishing a holistic care for dementia patients, while making sure that caregivers are meeting regulatory requirements. Seniors typically do not receive the same amount of human touch and interaction when they become medically frail or start exhibiting signs of dementia. Hence, they feel isolated, insecure, and anxious, and they lack trust in their caregivers. The absence of touch may cause decreased sensory awareness, too. Patients who have serious conditions are mostly receptive to touch, but the usual healthcare providers are unable to provide them with expressive human touch.

Simple actions, such as touching and massaging their hands may be accepted by elders affected by dementia as reassuring and calming. Even for as little as five minutes, hand massage can induce relaxation both mentally and physically, thus, decreasing cortisol levels, which are associated with high levels of stress. Massage can increase levels of serotonin, too, a neurochemical responsible for regulating mood and feelings of calmness, thus, minimizing irritability and anxiety in clients with dementia.

Other forms of massage therapy, such as back massages with slow strokes, can stimulate the release of endorphins or the so-called, ‘happy hormones’, which uplifts the mood while suppressing pain. The massage may affect the autonomous nerve system, too, which generates a relaxation response that may help your loved one feel less anxious and fall asleep. Foot massage can induce deep relaxation, promote sleep, and communicates comfort and support.

Source: http://www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id=15057