Willows Estate ‘hands it’ to massages as key support for people who have dementia

Scented lotion, touch, conversation calms, engages residents: LEC

With the allure of soothing lavender lotion, Willows Estate is giving residents who have dementia a hand.

Hand massages provide residents of the Aurora long-term care home with both some TLC and one-on-one time with life enrichment staff. Teddy Mazzuca, life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC), says the massages are of the home’s most successful activities for people who have cognitive impairment.

“It’s the touch and the calmness, it works,” Teddy says.

“Even if someone’s having a bad day or is a little agitated and you sit with them … I find that it works well.”

The massages provide an opportunity for bonding and conversation. Teddy typically encourages residents to determine the topics of discussion during their personal sessions.

Sometimes they’ll chat about the weather or the events of the day or even reminisce.

When hand massages are on the calendar, life enrichment employees try to connect with as many residents as possible. They start with those residents who have the most significant levels of cognitive impairment. “Some people can’t participate in (other programs) so we really try to reach them.”

The LEC recalls one woman who was sleeping when Teddy approached her recently to see if she’d like a hand massage. The resident was receptive.

“She woke up and we were conversing and she was very alert.” It was significant because the woman spends a lot of time sleeping and it was an opportunity for her to engage in an activity.

Willows Estate puts hand massages on the calendar on a weekly basis.

The OMNIway is speaking with life enrichment department staff in OMNI homes about different strategies for engaging and/or connecting with residents who have dementia.

September is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

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