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24 January 2007
Acupressure Can Significantly Relieve Dementia Symptoms

Acupressure can significantly reduce agitated behavior in older patients with dementia, including reductions in verbal/physical attacks and wandering. The study, in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, was based on 15-minute treatment sessions twice-a-day for five days a week. Once the four-week study period ended, however, agitation levels started to rise again, suggesting that acupressure needs to be provided on an ongoing basis.

"Agitated behavior in people with dementia is a major concern for caregivers" said study author, Professor Li-Chan Lin. "It can endanger patients and others, make it necessary for them to be moved from familiar surroundings and demoralize and psychologically distress caregivers. People are living longer and, as a result, we face increased numbers of people with dementia. It is very important that we find interventions that enable us to provide more effective care for them."

The study noted that physical attacks - including pushing, beating, scratching and pinching - fell by ten-fold during the period the acupressure treatment was implemented. Likewise, verbal outbursts and attacks feel by nearly ten-fold as well. Similar patterns were recorded for non-physical and non-verbal agitation, which included wandering, stealing, undressing and tearing things.

The acupressure treatment was based on five key pressure points - Fengchi (GB 20), Baihui (Du 20), Shenmen (He 7), Niguan (Pe 6) and Sanyinjiao (Sp 6). Each acupressure point was pressed for two minutes using three to five kilograms of pressure.

"Our study showed that providing patients with acupressure twice-daily for five days a week significantly reduced agitated behaviour and wandering" says Professor Lin. "This has important implications for the future care of dementia patients as it provides an effective option that can be carried out at home or in long-term care facilities."

Source: Journal of Clinical Nursing

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