Massage Therapy for Dementia & Benefits

Table of Contents

Dementia is a debilitating condition impacting millions of people around the world. It is a progressive disease that impacts the brain, leading to a decline in cognitive abilities, memory loss, and behavioral changes. As the condition progresses, individuals may experience difficulty completing simple tasks, such as dressing or bathing, and may require assistance with their daily activities. Massage therapy is a useful complementary therapy for individuals with dementia, helping to reduce anxiety and improve overall quality of life.

What Is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy involves manipulating the soft tissues and muscles of the body. It can be performed by a trained professional or a family member and customized to the individual’s needs. Massage therapy has been used to alleviate various conditions, including pain, stress, and anxiety. It can also be used as a relaxation technique, helping to improve overall well-being.
Studies have demonstrated that massage therapy can be beneficial for individuals with dementia. It has been found to reduce anxiety and agitation, improve communication, and reduce aggressive behaviors. It can also help to improve sleep patterns and reduce pain levels. Massage therapy can be customized to meet the individual’s needs, and the therapist can modify the techniques used based on the individual’s level of cognitive impairment.

Reduces Anxiety & Agitation

One of the key benefits of massage therapy for individuals with dementia is its ability to reduce anxiety and agitation. Individuals with dementia often experience heightened anxiety levels, leading to increased agitation and aggression. Massage therapy is effective in reducing these symptoms, helping individuals with dementia to feel calmer and more relaxed.

Improve Communication

Massage therapy can also improve communication in individuals with dementia. Touch is a powerful form of communication, and massage therapy can help individuals with dementia to connect with their caregivers or therapist. It can also help to improve nonverbal communication, allowing individuals with dementia to express themselves more effectively.

Reduces Aggression

Massage therapy can also help to reduce aggressive behaviors in individuals with dementia. Aggression is a common symptom of dementia, and it can be challenging for caregivers to manage. Massage therapy is effective in reducing aggressive behaviors, helping individuals with dementia to feel more calm and relaxed.

Improves Sleep

Finally, massage therapy can improve sleep patterns and reduce pain levels in individuals with dementia. Sleep disturbances are common in individuals with dementia, and massage therapy can help to promote better sleep patterns. Massage therapy can also help to reduce pain levels, improving the overall quality of life for individuals with dementia.

Complementary Therapy

Massage therapy is a useful complementary therapy for individuals with dementia. It can help to reduce anxiety and agitation, improve communication, reduce aggressive behaviors, improve sleep patterns, and reduce pain levels. It is a non-invasive therapy that can be customized to meet the individual’s needs and performed by a trained professional or a family member. If your loved one suffers from dementia, consider incorporating massage therapy into their care plan to help improve their overall quality of life.

Here we discuss this topic with Massage Therapist Janice Storey from UK.

NourishDoc: Hello, everyone. Happy New Year. We bring much interesting stuff for you this new year, but this is our first session, and we are opening it up with Massage Therapy. All of us know we need massage therapy right now. But in this particular session, we focus on how massage therapy can help the elderly, especially with patients or clients with dementia. So, we have Janice. Janice is joining me live from the UK. Thank you so much for joining me.

Massage Therapist Jan: Thank you for having me.

Strengthens Muscles

NourishDoc: All right, so let’s understand, we are not going to go into the technical details of what dementia is and what happens in dementia, but what we want to understand is, since you’ve been serving the elderly population, what do you think, how can massage have helped their quality of life? That’s number one, and then what type of massage that you think helps the elderly? So, please start with these two topics and two questions.

Massage Therapist Jan: Okay. So I came into doing massage. I’m a beauty therapist by profession. I could see through some of the clients I had in the salon that massage was needed for people with dementia or long-term illnesses. They sometimes need to be remembered because people don’t necessarily think older people would want a massage.

Connection And Empathy

But actually, it’s not necessarily just the massage. It’s the connection. It’s empathy. It’s listening to them with kindness and warmth. It’s different for in the state; they are more switched on with giving massages to seniors, as you call them. But it’s not recognized in the UK. So, I go into care homes and residential care homes. I’ll see groups of people, so it could be a hand massage, with somebody feeling lost or lonely because it can be frightening. It’s different from what they’re used to.

Benefits For Stroke or Prakinson’s Also

So it’s that connection, but I also treat people that have had strokes or have got Parkinson’s to help with the muscle spasms, et cetera. So it’s a combination of all sorts in the care homes, and I also go mobile. So I’ll go into elderly clients’ homes, many of which are for people trying to keep as independent as possible and stay in their own homes for as long as possible. So they haven’t got dementia but need a little more help.

They’re having mobility issues or, through lockdown, they were just sat for a lot of the time. So it caused muscles to get stiff or weak. So it’s a question of going in and just doing gentle massage, and. In contrast, on a normal person, you might say for a deep massage anything from, say, 1 to 10 level, you would go seven up to 10, possibly with somebody with dementia, obviously the type of the skin and the weakness of the muscles, you would only go perhaps a three. Does that make sense?

Oils Used For Therapies

NourishDoc: Yes. We just wanted to understand that. So, let’s understand a little about the elderly; we’re talking more about the elderly because you specialize in the elderly. Do you use oils or any oils or any kind of something?

Massage Therapist Jan: I have used oils, and I have aromatherapy qualifications. So I have blended oils for relaxation or for arthritis, for pain relief, that kind of thing. But because I’m, a lot of the time, I’m doing it through their clothes, I don’t necessarily have to use an oil, or I will use, is, a wax, because there’s no chance of spilling it, so it sets like a coconut oil, would set, this is a very light texture, and it’s a, a lot easier, to clean off if you like because obviously, you don’t want them slipping and sliding.

Hot Stones & Lava Shells

NourishDoc: Sure, so you also mentioned that you help with Parkinson’s, muscle spasms, and dementia, right? So, please explain to us the different types of massages. What I’m trying to get from our viewers is the different types of massage for different ailments that the elderly have. Go a little bit deeper into that.

Massage Therapist Jan: Okay, so I generally use heat as well. I didn’t bring it with me, but I have lava shells or stones, which heat up and stay hot for about an hour. So obviously, if I’m going through cloves, that gives me a little more help because I can get through to the muscles with the warmth of the stone, and it’s nice and gentle; it starts to relax them before I even start with the massage. So I might do some petrissage or refuge, but it’s a simple message. It’s not going in with deep tissue because then they are frail, most of them. I mean, they’re in their eighties.

Myofascial Release

NourishDoc: Okay. So now, let’s understand. I mean, there’s much research that also validates the efficacy of massage, the aromatherapy to help the quality of life for some of the elderly. So, have you witnessed some better cognition abilities amongst maybe some patients who have dementia or someone who has muscle spasms? Do you see that improvement if they continue with the regular massage?

Massage Therapist Jan: Yes, so with stroke patients, their hands are often in contracture. So I’ll try and do some myofascial release to stretch the hands out. So I won’t be able to get the hand to stay open. However, it softens enough that they can get their a splint or something in there whereas they were really.

I also check for the skin’s integrity because sometimes the nails can bite long. So I can then point it out to one of the staff from the care home or so and so need their nails cut or that kind of thing or to for them to look out for build-up of dead skin matter and that sort of thing because they don’t always sort of notice. After all, it is so tight.

Self-Care At Home To Ease The Pain

NourishDoc: Okay, so any advice you can give the elderly who are staying at home? Someone like you cannot go to their home every week. Is this something they can do themselves that to help them ease the pain?

Massage Therapist Jan: So, what I’ve done before is I’ve done little workshops. So, I’ve shown carers how to do a little hand massage because I often don’t just mean carers within residential. A wife caring for a husband, that sort of thing. Because unfortunately, quite often, the touch is to do with keeping them clean or is more clinical rather than a loving touch, and that doesn’t mean they don’t love them; it’s just that people are busy, aren’t they?

Especially if you’re looking after somebody twenty-four seven, it’s just that stopping and maybe putting on some music that they remember or brings back memories and just to at the moment just a gentle massage of the hand. It’s just that connection and then making them feel safe and loved if you like because they won’t always remember who you are, or in my case, they won’t remember who I am.

However, they know that they feel safe with me because, of course, with dementia that it’s feelings that they still remember. So they don’t necessarily know who people are, but they know that’s somebody. I love that person, or I feel safe with that person.

NourishDoc: Okay, well, thank you so much. I think the whole idea was to talk about massage as a vital therapy for the elderly, not only for the elderly but also for normal people who like to relax; what is it? Right? In this case, we are just focusing more on the elderly because you focus on the elderly and how it can help the quality of their life.

Also, we all use massage as one of the therapies and aromatherapy, using essential oils. Anything else? This is our first session for the new year. We are launching many workshops. So, stay tuned within the month of January. Please keep supporting us. We have almost reached 200000 followers on Facebook. So, that’s a great great way to start a new year. Thank you so much, and thank you for your support. Bye.


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