How can massage help people with dementia? A live workshop with Massage and Me

Last year I wrote a couple of blog posts about How Massage Therapy Can Help People With Dementia. The response to the articles was amazing and I was touched by how many people found my relaxation techniques useful and were inspired to add massage therapy to their dementia treatment plans.

Recently my blog posts also led me to the amazing people at Dementia Café at the Uttlesford Community Hub. After reading my posts, they asked if I would join them at one of their weekly meetings to teach the group some simple hand massage techniques for dementia. I immediately said yes - and following a truly inspiring experience, I wanted to share a bit more about the session and spread the word about how quick it is to learn some simple tips and techniques that will help you deliver a soothing hand massage.

To reiterate, everyone can learn these massage techniques without learning a complicated routine. So, let’s get massaging!

Passing on the benefits of massage: Buckhurst Hill to Great Dunmow

A short trip from my massage studio in Buckhurst Hill, I joined the team at Dementia Café at the Uttlesford Community Hub on 28 January 2019 for a very relaxed and interactive ‘How can massage help Dementia’ workshop.


To start, I briefly spoke about the general benefits of massage, then showed everyone four massage strokes one at a time, which they practised on each other.

Some members of the group had other conditions such as arthritis, so we took some time to show how to alter the massage to avoid any discomfort, and reiterated that massage can help with a number of conditions and illnesses as well as dementia.

I took some little bottles of sweet almond oil for everyone to practise with and to take home, and also gave them a demonstration sheet with images of each massage stroke we learnt. This would help serve as a prompt for when they get home, to make incorporating massage into their dementia treatment plan that bit easier.

I tried to make the session as interactive and accessible as possible, reminding everyone that they can massage their partner’s hand while watching TV, while sitting having a cup of tea, while watching the world go by on a bus or a park. The best place is somewhere easy where you both feel relaxed and comfortable. Next we discussed…

How can massage help Dementia? The benefits…

Massage and Me Dementia Cafe Buckhurst Hill Forget-me-not
  • The soothing touch of a hand can work wonders to evoke feelings of reassurance, trust, protection and relaxation. This can also help to reduce distress.

  • A short hand massage can encourage a relaxation response in the brain, decreasing levels of cortisol (a stress hormone). Our immune system is stronger when these levels are lowered.  

  • Holding a hand and giving a gentle massage can be very powerful, at a time when words may escape us.

  • Massage can help release endorphins, which in turn make us feel happy and energised.

I must say I was met with some skeptics within the group at the start, who were wondering if there really was a link between massage and dementia at all. Thankfully, I am pretty certain everyone was converted by the end! Having experienced a massage for themselves, there was a lovely sense of calm in the group. Everyone seemed a little more relaxed, their hands were lovely and warm and hopefully they were excited to continue massaging at home that evening.

Me and My Granny a few years ago. I wish I’d have known these massage techniques back then…

Me and My Granny a few years ago. I wish I’d have known these massage techniques back then…

I would never claim that massage for dementia is a cure, but I think at an unsettled time of confusion, any comfort we can provide is a positive change. I was only at the café for an hour but that’s all you need to learn some simple relaxation techniques and moves which could make the world of difference not only to someone living with dementia but also to their carer.

I’d also like to thank the group for being so kind, welcoming, fun and positive. If you’re lucky enough to live in or near Great Dunmow and know of someone in need of this service, the Uttlesford Dementia Café is just such a lovely, warm and friendly part of the community.

I feel so lucky to have been invited there to be part of the team for just an hour. One cheeky member of the group even got me to massage his feet, so hopefully I’ll be back soon to get some reflexology practise in.

Thank you for having me, Uttlesford Dementia Café! The pleasure was all mine!

Take care everyone,
M&M x

Find Out More:

  • Where is my local Dementia Café ?
    You can find your local Dementia Services via the Alzheimer’s Society website linked here.

  • Can Massage and Me come to my Dementia Café (or equivalent) to deliver a session on Hand Massages?
    Yes! Please do get in touch if you would like to find out more, or book in, for me to come and deliver a session at your Dementia Café! I do these anywhere in Essex and Central London (other locations on request).

  • Does Massage and Me have Treatments for People with Dementia?
    Yes indeed, I have a number of clients who have dementia and this is an area of my work I am very passionate about, having worked for Alzheimer’s Society before starting up Massage and Me. To find out more please contact me, or see my page about my massages for People with Extra Needs.