I don’t know about you, but I feel like massage parlors have EXPLODED in my neighborhood. Ten years ago only the rich and famous got massages, but nowadays it seems like everyone I know has gotten at least a few in their lifetime. So, why not treat th person with memory loss in your life to a massage? They are recommended by the Arthritis Foundation, as you can read here, and some studies have even looked at the effects of massage on the “negative” behaviors some people with Alzheimer’s display, as you can read about on WebMD.
I can’t vouch for any studies, but I can say that the idea of soothing touch helping with the aches and pains of getting older and helping promote a calm demeanor has some face validity, at least to me. Of course, if the person with memory loss is in the moderate to late stages, it might make sense to take some common-sense precautions, such as notifying the masseuse that the person has dementia, perhaps staying with them in the room until you know how they’ll react, allowing the person to keep their clothes on, using light touch rather than a deep-tissue massage, scheduling a shorter massage for someone who likes to wander, etc.. Of course, if you’re so inclined/talented, you could try giving the person a massage at home. People in the late stages of dementia can still sense touch, even if they can’t speak, so a gentle shoulder or back rub can still be appreciated. Especially if bed-bound, helping the person do range of motion exercises/massaging arms and legs may help with circulation and in preventing pressure sores. Of course, be sure to talk with a doctor to see what movements would be best for the individual and make sure you stop if you notice any signs of pain such as grimacing, moaning, swatting at you, etc..
Those in the early stages, on the other hand, may enjoy the full massage/spa experience, and it’s one you can do together, either getting a couples massage if that fits your relationship, or getting separate massages and then basking in the relaxation together over lunch or another spa service such as a facial.
However you decide to try massage, I hope you find it relaxing!
Oh, and one more tip– watch Groupon or Living Social for deals on massages. That way it won’t be as big of a bummer if the person with memory loss doesn’t like the experience or can’t sit still for the whole thing.