Pi Phi Chapter

The Effects of Massage for Patients with Dementia in the Nursing Home

Nursing Research on the Green

2012 Abstract

Brea Thomas, BS, RN, MSN Student
Viterbo University

  • Background: One in eight individuals over 65 suffers from Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Forty percent of the total years with AD are spent in the most severe stage (often in a nursing home).
  • Significance: In the nursing home (NH) setting it is common for individuals with dementia to exhibit symptoms of aggressive and non-aggressive agitation.
  • Purpose/objective: This project analyzed and synthesized available research for evidence of the effective integration of various massage techniques to impact outcomes such as agitation, aggression, stress, sleep, relaxation, and comfort in older adults in the NH setting.
  • Methods: Benefits of the intervention, possible adverse effects, and barriers of incorporating massage were identified. Peer-reviewed research from January 2000- current was included. The studies encompassed a wide variety of research designs including randomized control trials.
  • Results: Clinically relevant findings that were reported included: decreased agitation, increased comfort and relaxation, decreased pain, decreased stress, satisfaction, enjoyment, feelings of wellbeing, and improved sleep. No evidence of adverse effects was noted. Barriers included: a lack of participation by nursing assistants, demand of an increased workload, and that other caregiving tasks took priority.
  • Clinical Implications: The evidence provides clear support for nurse practitioners to incorporate simple massage techniques into patient treatment plans and also to educate NH personnel who care for older adults of effective massage techniques. NPs, with a holistic view of patient care, are uniquely suited to advocate caring, non-pharmacologic, and cost-effective measures as adjunct treatment for patients in the NH, especially those with dementia.

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