Impact of Dementia: Health & Relationship Journey
Chances are you know someone who has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Dementia is a family disease, engaging spouses, partners, children and grandchildren in wrenching decisions about medical and custodial care, grim financial realities, and a lifetime of intergenerational dynamics and allegiances. The longer Alzheimer’s progresses, the more likely it is to affect one’s overall health and relationships with others.
And while massage therapy, is unlikely to reverse the course of Alzheimer’s or help a patient regain memory, it has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life for anyone living with the disease.
At the core of massage is human interaction. Care for people with dementia rests on relationships, underpinned by a strong evidence base. Massage is a powerful, yet under-utilized means to address the urgent need to find alternatives to medication to ease behavioral symptoms common to dementia. Massage therapy places an emphasis on person-centered treatment, which addresses all needs and contributes to more comprehensive care. When a person receives more than the standard attention to a specific issue, and when they are seen as a person instead of simply as a patient, greater healing can take place, and overall well-being is likely to improve.
Practitioners who want to provide massage in a dementia care facility have a range of options, which can vary widely from state to state or province to province, and sometimes from city to city. In some areas, massage therapists are employed as staff; other areas may have facilities offering contractual opportunities.
Skilled, compassionate human touch helps ease physical and emotional distress that leads to behavioral symptoms of dementia and is a feasible intervention to curb the use of medication.