Plagues and tangles, which are proteins that build up in cells and the spaces between nerve cells in the brain, have been found to develop in greater numbers in Alzheimer’s patients than normal aging humans. These obstructions cause nerve cells to die resulting in the symptoms of the disease.
The most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include memory loss, confusion, disorientation, mood and behavior changes, and as the disease progresses speaking, walking, and swallowing are affected. According to the Alzheimer’s Association more than 5 million Americans are living with the disease and Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and the numbers are estimated to jump to 13.8 million people by 2050.
Because this disease is prevalent in older adults, it is important to remember the clients could have fragile bones, thin and/or dry skin, and possible hindrance in range of motion. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, it is important to have communication with the client and to pay close attention to nonverbal cues for feedback and the client’s comfort level because sometimes they cannot express what they want to express.
According to AMTA, simply resting your hands on the shoulders of a client or a hand massage is beneficial and can help reduce the feelings of confusion, agitation, anxiety, ease loneliness and isolation, and promote the feelings of worthiness and well-being. Massage also helps with circulation.
Some acupressure points that may be useful for brain issues relating to circulation include LI 17 and SI 16, and GV 20 is nice for motor control issues and low energy. Traditional Chinese Medicine could look into blood stagnation, kidney deficiency, and issues with phlegm to address Alzheimer’s disease.