A Taiwanese study found acupressure might alleviate the agitations that people with forms of dementia like Alzheimer's go through. Acupressure is like acupuncture, only using hands instead of needles.
People with dementia are more prone to become angry, yell at others or become violent; they also may take illogical actions such as disrobing in public or wander around lost in the streets.
The effects of dementia are a concern for relatives and caretakers alike, as the agitations put dementia patients at risk of injury. The behavior also makes it harder for family members or nursing home staff to care for them.
For the study, the Taiwanese researchers enlisted the help of 31 dementia patients living in a nursing home. The 31 people were given a 15-minute acupressure massage twice a day, five days a week. This went on for four weeks.
To compare the effects of acupressure versus another theory the researchers were working on, the researchers visited the same 31 people and talked with them for 15 minutes each day for the following four weeks.
Overall, the team found that acupressure works much better than any other method they tried in calming down the agitations of dementia patients.
Furthermore, they found that acupressure helped in lessening the amount of aggressive behavior that dementia patients exhibit over the four weeks it was used. It also worked with more immediate results when used than the other methods.
The study's results suggest that simple human touch has amazing therapeutic capabilities. It isn't the first study to connect the two: a recent research review found that other forms of touch therapy can calm dementia patients down as well.
Acupressure has been used in Chinese medicine for more than 2000 years as a touch massage therapy.
The Taiwanese study appears in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing.