Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.
Alzheimer’s disease occurs when protein deposits clump together in the brain forming a plaque that results in loss of neurons and their connections. This causes cells to die and impedes a person’s ability to think and their memory to deteriorate. This is not a normal part of aging.
As AD progresses and changes are made to help cope with the deterioration in lifestyle, anxiety associated with unfamiliar surroundings, loss of self-control, social isolation, and mental confusion creates stress for the individuals and their care givers.
Behaviour changes, including wandering, aggression, agitation, and sleeplessness, begin to manifest. Pharmacological interventions are often prescribed to try and help with some of these behaviours but there are risky side effects to taking these medications that include increased risk of falls, confusion, stroke, and sudden death.
Non-pharmacologic interventions are also suggested that include regular exercise, avoidance of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine; maintenance of a regular schedule for bedtime as well as a comfortable relaxing sleep environment.
In addition to behavioural and environment changes, complementary and integrative health therapies offer another option for providing relief to individuals with AD.
Reflexology for Alzheimer’s Disease
Several research studies and systematic reviews are found suggesting reflexology promotes relaxation and improves sleep. Research studies with individuals with AD and or dementia have shown reflexology improves mood and reduces physical complaints, demonstrating significant reduction in observed pain. Another study shows reflexology helps relieve stress and thus helps improve cognitive ability.
While there is still so much we don’t know about AD, more and more research is being done to help us understand it and improve quality of life for those who do have it. Some of the most simple things, like the power of touch, can provide a noticeable improvement to those who are suffering. And although we don’t yet have a cure, we can still influence the quality of life for individuals with AD right now.
Consider reflexology as a part of your wellness strategy or that of a loved one with AD. It may help make things a little bit better.