A good massage can make Alzheimer’s caregivers feel better after their stressful job.

October 5, 2012 – My son-in-law Mark gives the best neck and shoulder massages.  I could feel my back muscles do a double tense as soon as I sat down.  Tense, that is, until they begin to relax as his firm fingers worked out the tightness from a busy and often hectic day with Ken.  Even in Ken’s early Alzheimer’s, it was nice to have someone close by who could help take out the kinks of stress and strain.  But not very long ago Mark and our daughter Debbie moved 800 miles away to live closer to their grown children in Ogden, Utah. Nevertheless, whenever they come to visit I get my neck and shoulder massage.

 I know, neck and shoulders are merely one small area compared to a complete, full-body relaxing massage.  I’ve only had one of those.

 Long before Ken’s Alzheimer’s we paid a visit to Thailand.  I’ll skip telling about the beauty of the land, the charming people, the floating gardens and even the vast impact of its history and the small, but significant “Bridge On The River Kwai;” the blowing up of which rendered the Japanese without supplies during some of the intense fighting of WWII.

 What they did have in Bangkok was a school for training masseurs and masseuses. To the tired tourists the school presented a deal: a special full-body massage done by their advanced students.   I had always wanted a full-body massage and this was my opportunity.  Ken wasn’t interested, but waited for me for the better part of an hour while I relaxed under the educated hands of a top student masseuse.  Muscles were massaged in places where I didn’t know I had muscles.  When she finished I felt like a new woman and ready for another trip to some far-away places with strange-sounding names.

Ken wasn’t like Mark in that he knew nothing about even a simple back rub, but he gave really great foot rubs. So between the two of them my neck-shoulder area was in good shape and so were my feet.

Meanwhile, our grandson Sean had become a licensed chiropractor.  While having an adjustment is different than a massage it does put the body back in shape. There was also a bonus.  Sean had purchased a piece of hand-held electronic equipment which gave a rather respectable back massage with a flip of a switch.  A large piece with rotating heads relaxed the patient making an adjustment that much easier.  “I want one of those,” I told Sean.  With Mark’s neck-shoulder rub, Ken giving me a foot rub, the back massager and you adjusting my back I’ll be in almost perfect shape.

So, here it is 2012.  Mark has moved away, Ken has Alzheimer’s so I’ve lost some of my best therapy.  But I still have Sean and the adjustments and the electronic back massage machine.  Even when I’m alone, while it isn’t the best arrangement trying to give oneself a back massage, I do manage.  Holding the massage apparatus in one hand then the other it’s almost like a back scratcher only much, much larger.  It does ease the stress down my spine, but it’s hardly as relaxing as it would be if Ken were able to do the massage while I rested comfortably. Consequently, I do the best I can.

If I could fit it all into my busy schedule and chopped-up day I would probably make an appointment and try the full-body massage again – and look into massage therapy — but I don’t see my way clear in the near future. Meanwhile, having once appreciated the benefits of massage I highly recommend a good massage for every caregiver out there – and anyone else in need of easing whatever happens to be your cross to bare.

P. S. from Ann:  Recently I had the opportunity to exchange some thoughts with another writer in another area of illness and disease.  We both agreed on the wonderful benefits of a good massage.  Her experience, though, goes further than just a good massage; she writes about massage therapy and works in an entirely different field of disease other than Alzheimer’s. This dedicated woman is involved with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance and knows firsthand the benefits of massage therapy.

As a caregiver I understand the correlation I have with patients of any of the dreaded diseases that plague mankind.  We all want to be free from stress, feeling upset and depressed, being fearful, worried and angry about what has happened in and to our lives. What we want is to forget, at least for a little while, to relax and feel a bit of joy. This can happen with a good massage, or better yet, with massage therapy.

Melanie Bowen is a writer and joined the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance in 2011 as an awareness advocate for natural health and cancer cure initiatives.  You will often find her highlighting the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments for those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illnesses.  She also assists in social media outreach making every effort to spread awareness. For more information go to http://mesothelioma.com/


Massage Therapy Helps Cancer Patients Fight Negative Side Effects of Treatment 

By Melanie L. Bowen

 Few things in life are as relaxing as a great massage. Nothing is quite as calming as receiving a massage from a licensed massage therapist. For people who are diagnosed with any form of cancer, such as mesothelioma or breast cancer, massage therapy has even more benefits. So why not indulge and help your mind, body and spirit at the same time when you have a cancer diagnosis?

The benefits of massage therapy for those who suffer from cancer can be amazing. Massage therapy will not cure a person of cancer, but it can make their life much easier. When a person is diagnosed with cancer, they may feel stressed, upset, angry, depressed, and a myriad of other emotions. Once they have time to deal with these emotions, the patient is then placed in a situation where they not only have to think about their cancer diagnosis and their life; they have to think about their cancer treatment. When a person is forced to go through cancer treatment to get better, their life is going to change even more than it did when they were diagnosed with cancer.

Cancer treatments can be very difficult on a person’s body. They are long, time-consuming processes which can take hours, several times a week. Most forms of cancer treatment require patient’s sit still for long hours at a time. This can cause a lot of pain and stiffness as well as muscle aches in their body. Additionally, cancer treatments have a bevy of negative side effects that almost everyone experiences at some point during their treatment. Most people feel fatigue, depression, nausea and vomiting. Treatment is painful enough, dealing with cancer is difficult enough, and having to deal with these negative side effects only adds to the difficulty of living with cancer and fighting it at the same time.

The reason that massage therapy can benefit people with cancer is that it can help to alleviate some of the side effects that come with cancer treatment. Massage therapy is a proven method of relieving pain in the muscles and tension in the body. Additionally, massage therapy can alleviate the feelings of fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. Massage therapy can also improve a person’s mood, which can make their feelings of depression less severe.

When a person’s body is massaged, their body releases hormones. These hormones are like drugs that make the body feel better. They travel to the brain and begin to fight the chemicals in the brain that cause stress and promote feelings of anxiety and unhappiness. As these bad chemicals are depleted from the brain, people begin to feel better about themselves and their life. They feel happier and more cheerful. Their level of stress is significantly decreased and their anxiety level goes down significantly.

All of this makes a big difference in a cancer patient’s life. When a person is happier, less stressed and has minimal pain; their quality of life is greatly improved. Quality of life is the overall feeling that people have about their lives. Those who are happier and have a better quality of life have a better chance at beating their cancer. Doctors have proven that those with a high quality of life are more likely to survive their cancer diagnosis and to experience fewer negative side effects from cancer treatment than those who have a lower quality of life.

Cancer patients can further improve their quality of life by eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and doing things they enjoy. Family who is supportive and frequent massage therapy can make a huge difference in the way a cancer patient experiences their cancer treatment.

Massage therapy is not a cure for cancer. However, it can make the process of going through treatment to rid the body of cancer much more bearable, and it will make that person’s chances of surviving cancer improve. To have the best possible experience with massage therapy, cancer patients are encouraged to find a licensed massage therapist to perform their massages, especially if that patient is going through a mesothelioma diagnosis.

 Massage therapists are educated and certified when it comes to their work.  They are the very best.  To find someone who will suit your needs consult your doctor today and find a massage therapy that will benefit you and your cancer treatment!

Originally posted 2012-10-07 04:45:59.


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