By Jim Stark
Research conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Center has found a number of drugs that help Alzheimer patients. The goal of the medication is to increase blood flow, reduce restlessness, depression, anxiety, agitation, and aggression, stiffness in muscles, and allow for better mobility and improve sleep patterns in patients. Depending on the medications being taken, potential interactions are always a concern.
Many people without Alzheimers have found massage helpful in providing relief from symptoms listed above. Is it possible that massage could provide the benefits without the side effects of drugs?
One of the things working in its favor is that touch is the first sense that human beings experience. It is also the last sense to go as the senses fail. Touch is powerful, yet very calming. It can express feelings when words no longer work. But this does not mean it will work with everyone, nor in every situation. Some people just don’t want to be touched. Sometimes their nerves are so sensitive their skin hurts, so you must be sensitive to their wishes and needs.
We all want control over our bodies. That does not change with Alzheimer. In fact, it is often a lack of control that causes frustration. Asking permission is very important. They need to know they are in loving hands and that they still have control. Start where they can see you and see what you are doing. Ask for their hand and gently work each part of the hand.
Reflexology of the hands can have a very calming effect on the entire body since the zones of the hand can impact to various parts of the body. The thumb is very important since it can affect the spine, neck, head and brain. The body of the hand is linked to arms, shoulders, ribs and sternum. The wrist corresponds to the pelvis, hip and thigh. Specific spots on the hand can impact the heart, liver, stomach, and digestive system. So you can see that working the hands can affect the entire body.
When they feel comfortable with you, and your touch, you can ask if they would want you to work their arms. It is important to stay where they can see you. No sudden moves, no surprises, and don’t massage for too long. Remember that they should control the duration; 15 minutes may be all that they can handle.
If you are a caregiver, you already know the stress that comes with that task. Massage can help you destress and recharge your batteries. And, if you decide to provide a massage for your loved one, a good massage therapist with geriatric experience will be glad to show you some techniques.
From Western Pennsylvania Guide to Good Health