The United Nations (UN) is keeping a close watch on the global population phenomenon that is occurring, better known as an ageing population where the number of elderly (i.e. those aged 65 and above) is projected to reach 1.5 billion by 2050. While the young will fast become outnumbered, our population is susceptible to a bigger threat in the form of major health risks.
One of the biggest health risks arising as a result of humanity’s ageing is Alzheimer’s disease. Ann Catlin, founder of the Centre for Compassionate Touch in the United States and an expert in the field of massage chair therapy in elderly care and hospice, states that in the next 18 years the United States will only have two kinds of people – those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and those who look after Alzheimer’s patients.
Research has found that massage chair therapy plays a key role in providing for Alzheimer’s patients something that nurses and carers cannot – an element of round-the-clock human touch! Massage chair therapy is fast-revolutionizing the health care industry, and here at Relax-with-Me we have the knowledge that enables us to recommend the ideal massage chairs for Alzheimer’s patients, and the chairs to back it up.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is defined by the Alzheimer’s Society as “a physical disease that affects the brain…during the course of the disease, proteins build up in the brain to form structures called ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’…This leads to the loss of connections between nerve cells, and eventually to the death of nerve cells and loss of brain tissue”.
It is a progressive disease that is the most common cause of dementia; also known as senile dementia, it causes memory loss and permanent brain damage.
Types of Alzheimer’s Disease
There are 2 types of Alzheimer’s – sporadic or familial:
- Sporadic Alzheimer’s – the most common form of Alzheimer’s that usually occurs in adults over the age of 65 (but can also affect adults of any age)
- Familial Alzheimer’s – a very rare genetic condition caused by mutated genes that usually develops in adults between the ages of 40 and 50
Alzheimer’s disease progression rates vary from person to person and a patients’ lifespan ranges from as little as three to up to twenty years.
It is hard to diagnose in its early stage as symptoms can be as subtle as memory lapses or difficulty in remembering the names of familiar objects. In latter stages however, they can include:
- Persistent and frequent memory difficulties, especially of recent events
- Vagueness in everyday conversation
- Apparent loss of enthusiasm for previously enjoyed activities
- Taking longer to do routine tasks
- Forgetting well-known people or places
- Inability to process questions and instructions
- Deterioration of social skills
- Emotional unpredictability
How is Massage Chair Therapy Relevant?
Now that you are aware about what Alzheimer’s disease is and the different forms and severities of it, Relax-with-Me would like to educate you on how massage chair therapy is relevant to the Alzheimer’s treatment regime, and how it can help reduce the suffering of diagnosed patients.
Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment
Although there is no preventative cure for Alzheimer’s, massage chair therapy is believed to be a holistic means of providing patients with the physical, mental and emotional therapeutic relief they require.
Often, patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease can get confused and frustrated as a result of their gradual memory loss, leaving them stressed out, scared and/or nervous. Therapeutic massages offer a friendly touch, and are a more natural way to calm down and soothe agitated patients.
The “power of touch”, as it is now being coined, offers a range of physical, mental and emotional health benefits that can make significant improvements to patients’ overall quality of life.
According to Ann Catlin, an important point to note is that “People with Alzheimer’s disease don’t lose the capacity for human emotion or recognition of a caring touch…even in the very late, sever state”.
When administered effectively, massage chair therapy can help elevate the mood of patients by reducing their sense of loneliness and isolation, it can helps keep the body’s levels of awareness and alertness up, and brings in that much desired element of human touch at any time which reduces their mental state of tension and anxiety.
A well-administered massage chair therapy treatment regime for Alzheimer’s patients includes:
- Gentle approach – Start with a handshake or shoulder hold and then begin working the hands, arms, neck, etc.
- Monitor the patient – Always check for a verbal response. If the patient is not able to audibly respond monitor breathing and non-verbal facial reactions.
- Lubricate – Use hypoallergenic non-scented cream or oil which may help reduce friction (elderly skin is very vulnerable to tearing) as well as moisturize dry areas while enhancing blood flow.
- Not Too Hard – Be careful not to press too hard unless places like the shoulders or legs can take slightly deeper work.
4 Ways Massage Chair Therapy Can Help
1. Improved Blood Circulation
A gentle massage administered via massage therapy chairs is said to accrue a wealth of benefits for patients’ bodies. Not only does the movement and pressure applied to the body help increase circulation, but also de-constricts blood vessels. Improved blood circulation enhances the flow of oxygen and various other vital nutrients throughout the body.
In particular, it helps improve the flow of endorphins and the flow of lymph which is the fluid that carries away metabolic waste from the body’s muscles and organs. The boost in blood flow and elevated endorphin levels contributes to patients’ prolonged physical and mental health.
2. Better Brain Response
As a result of better stimulation of blood flow, the brain releases more “feel good chemicals” such as dopamine and serotonin and less of the stress-inducing hormone cortisol. According to studies conducted “…in which cortisol was assayed [biochemical measurement] either in saliva or in urine, significant decreases were noted in cortisol levels (averaging decreases 31%).
In studies in which the activating neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine) were assayed in urine, an average increase of 28% was noted for serotonin and an average increase of 31% was noted for dopamine. These studies combined suggest the stress-alleviating effects (decreased cortisol) and the activating effects (increased serotonin and dopamine) of massage therapy…”
3. Improved Mental Well-being
The gentle touch-based therapy approach helps promote a range of mental and emotional improvements to Alzheimer’s patients’ daily routines. This includes:
- Agitation relief – research conducted by Hicks-Moore and Robinson showed that combined music and massage therapy significantly decreases agitated behaviour pretty much almost as soon as therapy is administered.
- Reduced aggressiveness – often Alzheimer’s patients resort to violent behaviour as a result of the constant fear they feel. A Japanese study published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementias concluded that “the “aggressiveness” score levels decreased significantly after 6 weeks in the tactile massage group. These results suggest that tactile massage reduces aggressiveness and stress level in patients with dementia.”
Bringing in an element of touch and caring that can be accessed around the clock without a compromise in quality helps calm and comfort patients and establishes greater trust in their carers, and improves the level of human interaction in maintaining a patient’s mental and emotional health.
4. Restoration of Dignity
Perhaps the biggest relief massage chair therapy can offer those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is a state of mental peace and well-being. The physical and mental stress of suffering from a chronic disease often takes a serious toll on the body.
How Relax-With-Me Can Help
Here at Relax-with-Me, our aim is to not just sell massage chairs, but to educate the public on the positive health and recreational benefits administered through massage chair therapy. Our goal is to serve you, the customer, to the best of our abilities through a tailor-made process that helps you find the best-fit massage chair to suit all of your therapeutic needs.
Want to find out more? Explore our website now and browse our carefully curated list of massage chairs. Take your pick and feel the benefits of a mind, body and soul in true harmony on your journey towards a healthy and happier lifestyle.
For Alzheimer’s patients especially, we find massage chair therapy to be a cost-effective way to help soothe and calm patients. Improved blood circulation, better brain response, improved mental well-being and restoration of dignity are just the tip of the ice berg for the positive physical, mental and emotional health benefits accrued.