Study: Dementia patients react positively to massage

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Gentle massage therapy helps to calm agitated dementia sufferers. Also, light and gentle touch along with "verbal encouragement" at mealtime increases their food intake, according to two clinical studies by Danish researchers.

Hand massage, either alone or accompanied by calming music, was found to helped soothe dementia patients' agitation levels for a short period, one study found.

Nursing home residents with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia who received actual physical contact ate more than residents who received verbal encouragement alone, according to another study. A review of these clinical trials is published in the Cochrane Library.