The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Touch and Massage Therapy Incorporating Essential Oils:

Today's blog is from our Regina Hucks, our Alternative Therapies Consultant.

Touch is powerful.
The Human Touch is a powerful thing. Often a touch can be something as simple as placing a comforting hand on a shoulder or another’s hand or a more powerful touch found in a hug or gentle embrace. For someone with dementia, this is huge.

The number 1 question I get from caregivers is “What can I do to dispel agitation and anxiety.” While everyone responds differently, you may need to try several things before finding that particular therapy that works best for your charge. There are several basic things I will suggest doing that may well be your key to preventing episodes from occurring but it is important to try first to discover the source of his or her trigger. Consider this exercise much like child-proofing a home.

Anxiety and agitation may be caused by a number of different medical conditions, medication interactions or by any circumstances that worsen the person's ability to think. Ultimately, the person with dementia is biologically experiencing a profound loss of their ability to negotiate new information and stimulus. It is a direct result of the disease.

Situations that may lead to agitation include:
  • Moving to a new residence or nursing home
  • Changes in environment, such as travel, hospitalization or the presence of houseguests
  • Changes in caregiver arrangements
  • Mis-perceived threats
  • Fear and fatigue resulting from trying to make sense out of a confusing world
There are 5 basic things you will want to do to prevent or reduce agitation:
  1. Create a calm environment. Remove stressors. This may involve moving the person to a safer or quieter place, or offering a security object, rest or privacy. Try soothing rituals and limiting caffeine use.
  2. Avoid environmental triggers. Noise, glare and background distraction (such as having the television on) can act as triggers.
  3. Monitor personal comfort. Check for pain, hunger, thirst, constipation, full bladder, fatigue, infections and skin irritation. Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature. Be sensitive to fears, misperceived threats and frustration with expressing what is wanted.
  4. Simplify tasks and routines.
  5. Provide an opportunity for exercise. Go for a walk. Garden together. Put on music and dance or paint or draw.
NOTED SUGGESTION: I know this is off the subject of Touch and Massage therapy but creating the calming environment is first and foremost. Research has shown that a combination of Rosemary and Lavender Essential Oils in a diffuser reduces or eliminates anxiety. Rosemary has been shown to increase cognition while Lavender acts as a calming and soothing agent. Regular daily diffusing helps to create and maintain a calming environment.

Once you have done all you can to ensure the creation of a calming environment and you are confident there isn’t any medical issue needing your attention yet anxiousness or agitation still persists, Touch Therapy and the use of specific Essential Oils will generally provide immediate relief.

Touch Therapy is our primary focus in this blog today. Touch Therapy is easily learned and incorporated into a daily routine while Massage Therapy should only be performed by a licensed practitioner with knowledge and experience working with dementia’s and the aged. Above all else, Touch Therapy and Massage Therapy present SIDE-EFFECT-FREE alternatives to everyone.  More.... 

 (Find the rest of Regina's information on Touch Therapy in her blog, Alternative Therapies for Dementia. To contact her visit this page and fill in the form.)

For information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers, nor is Regina Hucks. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

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