Massage for dementia at home

Updated: Nov 15, 2019

Lack of human touch can be a major problem for the elderly, ill or frail and can causes anxiety, depression, loneliness and lack of trust on top of coming to terms with a diagnosis and managing the symptoms of the condition.

Massage at home:

If you are a carer or family member, you can provide mini massage treatments for someone living with dementia. Using these techniques as part of your every day routine will bring many benefits.

Benefits of massage for dementia

v Encourages a relaxation response in the brain

v Decreases cortisol (the stress hormone)

v Increases levels of serotonin (the happy hormone)

v Increased body awareness (proprioceptive awareness) and alertness

v A reduction in the feelings of confusion and anxiety

v Helps to calm agitation

v Less reliance on conventional medication

v Massage prioritises human interaction and creates a sense of trust

1. Hand massage

As little as five minutes of hand massage has been found to reduce cortisol levels and produce a physiological relaxation response. Gently pressing the palm and rubbing the knuckles in therapeutic motions has helped dementia patients reduce their agitated behaviour during morning care routines.

2. Slow-stroke back massage

This method uses effleurage, which requires moving the palm of the hand in long, firm and rhythmic strokes. Often these rhythms follow patterns, such as forming a figure-of-eight motion on both sides of the back. This form of massage helps induce sleep and releases endorphins. In some cases, it has also decreased blood pressure.

3. Foot massage

Ten minutes of daily foot massage has been shown to reduce agitative behaviour symptoms such as verbal aggression, wandering and repetitive movements.


Aromatherapy should only be use by a trained therapist. However, the following are relatively harmless and bring benefits. Use a couple of drops, mixed with a carrier oil such as organic sunflower oil or a few drops in a bath.

v Lemon balm to improve cognition and mood

v Lavender oil to reduce occurrences of aggressive behaviour

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