Dementia Patients Benefit From Massage

Dementia Patients Benefit from Professional Massage

While not a specific disease, dementia is a more generic term that refers to a severe decline in mental ability. This decline will eventually interfere with the daily life of the patient. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease as it accounts for 60% or more of dementia patients. The cognitive symptoms of dementia are not part of the normal process of aging.

The Characteristics of Dementia

Each person suffering from dementia will have their own unique set of symptoms, but the following characteristics are the most common symptoms seen in patients. However, to be diagnosed with the disease, at least two of the core mental functions must be impaired to a significant degree.

The most common symptoms and characteristics include:

● Memory changes

● Difficulties with communication and language

● An inability to focus or pay attention

● Loss of reasoning or judgment

● Changes in visual perception and hallucinations

● Signs of aggression, agitation, hostility, anxiety, and restlessness

● Withdrawal and disinterest in friends, family, and hobbies

● Disturbances in sleep patterns and/or insomnia

Initially, a person dealing with dementia may show smaller symptoms like a decline in short-term memory. He or she may start forgetting where things like a purse or wallet have been left. They may forget to pay bills or attend appointments, and they may forget how to prepare meals. Getting lost while traveling in once familiar places is also a sign of the cognitive decline.

As the disease progresses, the patient may start to see an inability to function at work, in social relationships, and in all the day-to-day areas of his or her life. It can be a scary and isolating time for the patient, and it can also be a difficult thing for loved ones to watch happening.

The Causes of Dementia

Ultimately, dementia is the result of damage to the cells in the brain which interferes with the cells’ ability to communicate. This loss of communication affects thinking, behavior, and emotions. However, since the brain has several distinct regions that are all responsible for different processes, damage in one area may leave other parts functioning normally.

Genetics seems to play a significant role in determining those that are susceptible to the disease process. However, other conditions can be contributing factors as well. Depression, certain medications, excessive use of alcohol, thyroid issues, and particular vitamin deficiencies have been known to affect the brain’s cognitive functions.

Massage and Alzheimer’s Patients

Massage has many health benefits that can be good for the general population including an increase in circulation and joint function. It also helps decrease muscle spasms, pain, and inflammation. It has additional benefits for those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia.

The deteriorating brain function that dementia patients undergo can be very frightening and isolating, and it can be extremely beneficial for the patient to have a caring massage therapist focusing their attention on them. It can go a long way towards helping to ease the fear of losing touch with society that is often felt by those with this devastating disease.

Massage therapy provides dementia patients with attention that is non-judgmental and unconditional. Plus, it gives them a sensory experience with tactile stimulation. There is also a degree of companionship and social interaction that may be sorely lacking in the patient’s life. Also, there is a feeling of not only acknowledgment but also acceptance.

A caring and thoughtful massage therapist can bring a sense of well-being while easing the effects of isolation, loneliness, and even boredom.

Offering Alzheimer’s Massage Therapy

As you can see, there is a great benefit to the senior community when a massage therapist chooses to add this service to their practice. It does come with a few differences, however. People with dementia will need to be meet at their place of residence because traveling may be impossible, frightening, or simply too difficult. The therapist will also need to be very mindful of verbal and nonverbal cues. Yet, it can be nearly as rewarding for the massage therapist as it is for the client.


Geriatric Massage

Geriatric Massage | Toronto, Canada

Frequently Asked Question about Geriatric Massage

What is Geriatric massage?

Geriatric Massage is a gentle application of specialized massage techniques for the elderly population. Elderly population of age 65 years, and older require special care when it comes to applying force on their soft tissue. Soft tissue includes muscles, joints, ligaments, fat, nerves, blood vessels, tendons etc.  The practice of geriatric massage requires extensive evaluation of older person’s health condition, physical capability, and emotional state to provide an appropriate message.

There is a huge diversity of the elderly populations itself. From early “young”  retirees who can manage to upkeep their active lifestyle including marathons, cliff jumping, to those who are suffering from chronic conditions and may be bedridden. The clinician or therapist must pay special attention to medical history, and the result of older person’s physical and emotional assessment.

The therapist must consider a range of symptoms and signs like chronic pain, heart conditions, aging skin, bone density,  spine alignment, sleeping pattern, to dietary problems -Diet can significantly affect the frailty of skin, energy, and mood significantly.  

Unlike another age group, there is a higher level care that is required from the massage therapist. Specific massage training and assessment is required to successfully perform geriatric massage.

Skilled and caring touch can have a positive effect on a person’s physical, mental and emotional state.


Benefits of geriatric massage

Geriatric massage is therapeutic, improves mood, and induces relaxation when performed in accommodation to the client’s health conditions, physical capabilities, mobility, and emotional state.

The “Hands-on: technique has been adopted since the dawn of time to heal, and treat patients around the world; from ancient Chinese, Egyptians, Japanese, Arabic medical literature* Accommodate significantly improve mood. Aging comes with its own set of physical down

Benefits of geriatric massage include:

  • Ease discomfort, soreness, and tight muscles
  • Induce relaxation, and promote sleep
  • Mood Improvement via endorphin release, natural hormones that reduce pain
  • Increase mobility, and range of motion

Touch Research Institute (TRI) found a reduction in pain, enhanced immune functioning, activation of muscle, alertness, and performance after conducting 90 studies on the effects of geriatric massage therapy.

Brain Function and form is compromised as we age. Massage therapy is known to have effectiveness as a therapeutic treatment to individuals with mental conditions, and degenerative conditions. For instance, the study by University of Texas (Rowe et al, 1999) found that geriatric massage techniques helped lower the instances of pacing, wandering and resistant behavior from patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

In a separate study with elderly suffering from dementia became less anxious following touch treatment along with verbalization (Kim et al, 1999).

How to massage an elderly person?

Special Training is required to work with older persons. Unlike any other age group, you must adopt special precautions before proper assessment. Aging is part of life, and every one of us experience this vital process differently, so it is important for you to empathize and conduct a proper evaluation before beginning. The massage therapist must also keep in mind that he/she must be considerate to the positioning. 

Each person is unique and experiences touch therapy differently. In the same way, our mind reacts to stimulants differently. There are the variety of parameters to consider, starting with medical history, mood, and current physical state. Once you have a thorough idea of their state, consider the variety of different techniques including:

  • Holding: place hands mindfully on a specific surface of the body
  • Petrissage: Light kneading of muscles
  • Rocking: Gentle back and forth movement
  • Effleurage: Gliding soothing stroke
  • Fluffing: without squeezing, light movement of fingers on the muscles

Benefits of hand and foot massage for the elderly

Touch is one of our vital senses to experience the world, people and things around us. Hand, foot, or both are stimulated while performing geriatric massage on an older person. Hand massages can create an immediate stimulation, and improve range of motion around a wrist, and fingertip sensation. It can be used to enhance circulation on both ends of our limbs.Hand and foot massage for the elderly can instantly improve their reflex. Most adults experience stress, tension, anxiety, and loneliness. There are higher chances of elderly experiencing detachment, anxiety, and loneliness, and geriatric therapy from skilled clinician can have the therapeutic effect, as simple as improving their quality of life and well being.  

Online Geriatric Massage Certification and Specialized Education

Experienced Geriatric Massage therapists will tell you that it takes more than massage therapy certification to get into this field. Before you dive into specialized massage for older persons, students should consider understanding their own comfort level working with the elderly population.

As mentioned earlier, there are “young” retirees on one end, and bedridden patients, sometimes suffering from chronic and degenerative conditions on the other end.

Prepare yourself by defining who you want to service. The elderly population is the vulnerable group, but like any other age group, circumstances are equally unique within and each client needs to be individually assessed. To become a professional, you must understand the physiology of your client, make appropriate calls based on extensive evaluation of your patient, and apply techniques that enhance their quality of life and well being. A

You can find several certifications online for geriatric massage, but we suggest looking into the following groups and resources:

  1. Canadian Company, BC Eldercare Massage provides courses and certification: Link here
  2. National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Aging (NIA): Link here
  3. Centre for Disease Control (CDC), National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion: Link here
  4. NIH Center or Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCAM): Link here
  5. Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Older Adults: Click here for E-book

New Year’s Resolutions

Each New Year brings the promise of growth through new directions, perspectives,
adventures and lessons. Most of us are great at making long lists of New Year’s
resolutions, but the truth is, we are even better at breaking them shortly after. Why
do we then fail to stick with our resolutions? Well, the simple truth is that we come
up against old, hard to break habits. The longer explanation rests in the fact that we
don’t set clear and specific goals, lack accountability and we also anticipate failure
because let’s be realistic, this is not the first time we have set certain goals.
The problem is that it’s not as simple as just picking a health resolution and
achieving it. For example, this year many will list losing weight as their number
one goal. As most of us know, losing weight is not an easy process. It involves
changing our eating habits, exercise patterns, sleep hygiene and resolving any
other underlying health conditions among many other things. That simple health
resolution actually encompasses a whole lifestyle change that requires support in
order to be achieved.
Without the proper support, is it then really a surprise as to why most of us don’t
follow through on the goals we set for ourselves? Who doesn’t get overwhelmed by
dramatic, large changes that specifically involve our comfort zone? This is where
naturopathic medicine can help achieve these goals by supporting you through
small and gradual yet sustainable adjustments. A naturopathic doctor can act as
your health coach, providing you with the support to not only set realistic goals but
to also put together programs for you to achieve those health resolutions. He or she
can also assist in removing any health obstacles that may impede you from reaching
your goals as well as help keep you accountable, ensuring that you are making
steady and healthy progress.
Lastly but most importantly, be gentle with yourself and forgiving if you don’t
succeed at first. Breaking old habits can be fairly difficult so rather than trying to
revamp your life in a 360 degree move, try making smaller changes instead. Every
step in the right direction is just that, a step in the right direction because after all,
Rome wasn’t built in one day.

Back to School Doesn’t Have to Mean Back to Being Sick!

Strengthen your child’s immune system

For many parent back to school is synonmous with back to being sick. There are many natural steps a concerned parent can take to help strengthen their child’s immune system.
• Diet – Make sure your child is eating a balanced meal. This just doesn’t mean getting the basics but taking it a step further. Remember to include as many colours on the plate as possible. Different colours mean different nutrients. Think about making smoothies where you can sneak in a lot of different ingredients without your child knowing!
• Sleep – A good night’s rest always makes the next day better! In the summer sleep routines can be off. Getting kids back on track with a regular routine will help reinforce and strengthen their systems. For children that have trouble sleeping incorporate a 30-45 minute wind down phase before bed. Turn off the TV and another stimulating electronics and have them do all the basics (get into their pajama’s, brush their teeth, snuggle with a book, etc). For those difficult sleepers try putting a bag of dried lavender under their pillow or a few drops of lavender essential oil.
• Stress – Children feel stress too! Get your kids to talk about their feelings. If you sense that something is not quite right as them how they feel. It can be difficult for children to express themselves in a way we understand. They also learn from example. If we are stressed children will pick up on that too.
If your child does get sick don’t panic. A low grade fever (96.5-100 F) can actually be a good thing. During a fever, the body temperature is elevated as a part of the immune response to help kill the pathogen. Do not attempt to lower the fever as this negates the body’s natural response; instead support the fever and keep your child comfortable. However, if the fever get too high (103 F), it is time to call a doctor.
• Hydration is key – Make sure your child is drinking water or natural fruit juices.
• Rest!!! We do not give enough emphasis on rest – this is the time your body is healing itself.
• Proper nutrition – focus on broth’s that are full of vitamins and minerals and easy to take. If your child is able to eat solid foods make sure they are gentle on the system.
  • load up on Vitamin C – 250mg every 30-60 minutes until bowel tolerance (Vitamin C can cause diarrhea in high amounts so once this happens decrease the dose)
  • Probiotics – contributes to about 80% of the immune system.
  • Herbs – consider using supportive herbs like Echinacea, Elder berry, Astragalus, Andrographis, etc. Get the advice of a trained health professional to get the right combination.
If you have any questions about any of the points listed above please do not hesitate to get in touch with me – Dr. Karm Hans MSc, ND;; your complimentary 15 minute consultation today for the health of you and your entire family!)

The Power of Meditation and How It Helps Us Rediscover Happiness and Productivity

What is Meditation?

There are different ways to meditate, and since it’s such a personal practice there are probably more than any of us know about. There are a couple that are usually focused on heavily in scientific research, though. These are focused-attention, or mindful meditation, which is where you focus on one specific thing—it could be your breathing, a sensation in your body or a particular object outside of you.

The point of this type of meditation is to focus strongly on one point and continually bring your attention back to that focal point when it wanders.

The other type of meditation that’s often used in research is open-monitoring meditation. This is where you pay attention to all of the things happening around you—you simply notice everything without reacting.