Massage for Dementia Patients – How it Can Help

Patients with dementia are usually required to take medications to manage their symptoms. Massage for dementia patients can be seen as a non-pharmacological response to dementia symptoms.


Patients with dementia could be helped with massage in the following areas:

  • Anxiety symptoms
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Cognitive impairment


A study examined whether massage, reflexology, shiatsu and healing touch helped with:


  • the patient’s own behavior
  • easier for caregiver to look after the patient
  • any improvement in cognition
  • reduced distress


The study was limited since it addressed only hand massage and the use of touch at the same time as giving verbal instructions. The conclusion of the study, more than 10 years ago, was that further investigation was needed. However, it did find that massage and touch could be seen as complimentary to other therapies used to help dementia patients.


Fast forward 10 years, and meet information from down-under. The Australian College of Fitness and Bodywork (acfb)  points out that the number of seniors increasing, the demand for massage for senior patients can be expected to increase worldwide.


How Can Massage Help?

Massaging helps support pharmacological care of patients, by:


  1. Encourages interaction with other people.
  2. Putting touch into the lives of senior’s fights feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  3. Sow seeds of trust in the patient.

The vast majority of people with psychological issues report needing help with activities of daily living. If an aspect of trust is in place, they will be willing to accept help from another person.


Massage is a powerful form of communication and a way to improve quality of life. Massage volunteers from Tender Touch for All suggest initially massaging the hand, and as trust is built up, to progress to massaging other parts of the body, such as the back. Read up about that very special organization that visits senior patients and patients with dementia, offering massages to patients, as well as staff and family members.



Three massages listed by acfb are as follows:

  • Hand massage
  • Stoking the back massage
  • Foot massage


These massages should be performed by a person trained and certified in massage, who is familiar with working with senior individuals.


It might be a bit of a challenge to begin massage for dementia patients. However, patients who get to enjoy it, could really benefit from it.



massage for dementia patients with special oils


Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

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