Massage therapy has been shown to calm and comfort seniors with cognitive impairment, and geriatric-massage experts say massage is beneficial to Alzheimer’s patients. A new national report shows the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is growing rapidly, with a half-million new Alzheimer’s diagnoses predicted for 2010.

According to the report, “2010 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures,” released by the Alzheimer’s Association:

• There are 5.3 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease

• Every 70 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease

• African-Americans are about two times more likely and Hispanics are about one and one-half times more likely than their white counterparts to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias

• By mid-century someone will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds

• Alzheimer’s was the seventh leading cause of death in the country in 2006, the latest year for which final death statistics are available. It was the fifth leading cause of death among individuals aged 65 and older

• From 2000-2006, death rates have declined for most major diseases—while Alzheimer’s disease deaths rose 46.1 percent.

“There are no known genetic factors that can explain the greater prevalence of Alzheimer’s and other dementias in African-Americans and Hispanics than in whites,” read a statement from the association. “On the other hand, conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, which are known risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other dementias in all groups, are more common in African-Americans and Hispanics than in whites.”

In October, MASSAGE Magazine reported on a research that showed massage therapy reduced agitated behavior in nursing-home residents with cognitive impairment. The study, “Massage in the Management of Agitation in Nursing Home Residents with Cognitive Impairment,” revealed agitation levels for four of the five symptoms—wandering, verbally agitated/abusive, physically agitated/abusive, socially inappropriate/disruptive and resists care—were lower during massage than at baseline. At follow-up, both one and two weeks later, agitation levels were lower for all five categories.

Related articles:

Massage Improves Alzheimer’s Patients’ Quality of Life

Hand Massage Enhances Nursing Home Residents’ Comfort and Satisfaction with Care

Massage Therapy Reduces Agitation in Nursing-Home Residents

Geriatric Massage: Incidence of Dementia Could Rise with Aging Population

Therapeutic Touch Eases Agitation in People with Alzheimer’s