Dementia is disease that damages the brain cells and contributes to a progressive decline of cognitive abilities. These may include, but are not limited to reason, short and long-term memory, orientation, inhibition, sequencing, concentration, perception, communication and independence. Somewhat more common in women, the disease occurs after age 65, and the likelihood of developing it increases with age. Pending a physicians approval, massage therapy might provide a means of mitigating the symptoms of dementia.
Massage can Diminish Aggression, Anxiety and Agitation
The symptoms of dementia can increase anxiety and agitation, which might trigger socially unacceptable behavior. The swelling of the joints, muscle stiffness and spasms that normally accompany the aging process can worsen the mental state. The results of a 2010 study published in the American Journal of Alzheimer´s Disease and other Dementias indicate that gentle massage therapy can reduce stress and aggressive behavior in dementia patients.
Massage Helps Alleviate Insomnia and Loss of Appetite
Massage therapy can also treat the insomnia often accompanies the progression of dementia, as well as the loss of appetite that contributes to physical frailty. The Journal of Holistic Nursing published a study titled “The Effects of Slow-Stroke Back Massage on Minutes of Nighttime Sleep in Persons With Dementia and Sleep Disturbances in the Nursing Home: A Pilot Study.” The research team reported that the dementia patients how received a slow stroke massage showed a 36 minute increase in sleep. Other studies have found that a gentle hand massage performed during light conversation can improve the appetite of the patient receiving it.
Massage, Dementia and Depression
In February of 2009, the National Dementia Strategy of the United Kingdom published a study that provided advice on living well with dementia. Suggestions included reducing medication where appropriate and using alternative treatments such as massage therapy. Although massage cannot cure dementia, it might alleviate some of the side effects that often accompany the disease.
Depression, for example, prevails among many dementia patients. By promoting the release of dopamine and oxytocin – the hormones that promote feelings of love and well-being – massage has the potential to alleviate the symptoms of depression.
Massage and Proprioception for Dementia Patients
Proprioception, or awareness of your body´s position in space, diminishes with age. Dementia speeds up the process. Massage can help to improve or retain proprioception, which in turn can help dementia patients retain some independence, and return to some of the daily activities they once enjoyed. This sense of personal autonomy can improve the overall quality of life for the dementia patient.
If one of your older friends or family members suffers from dementia, massage might help. Talk to the doctor, then consult one of our massage therapists. Simply call us at Happy Physio on (08) 9272 7359 and try out our expert massage therapy.