As the U.S. population ages, the number of elderly living to very old ages and experiencing dementia will continue to grow. Caring for a person with dementia can be physically and emotionally demanding, with many long-term care facility staff experiencing increased levels of stress and burnout, notes an abstract published on www.pubmed.gov.

“Massage has been shown to be one way in which nurses’ stress can be reduced … however, no research has been conducted to explore its effectiveness for care staff working with older people with dementia in long-term care facilities,” the abstract noted.

A small pilot study indicated foot massage showed trends in improved mood, reduced anxiety and lower blood pressure in long-term care staff working with older people with dementia.

Nineteen staff, providing direct care to residents with dementia and regularly working at least two day-shifts a week at one long-term care facility were randomized into either a foot massage intervention or a silent resting control. Each respective session lasted for 10 minutes, and participants could receive up to three sessions a week, during their allocated shift, over four weeks.

The research was published in BMC Nursing.

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