The effectiveness of slow-stroke massage in diffusing agitated behaviors in individuals with Alzheimer's disease

J Gerontol Nurs. 1999 Jun;25(6):22-34. doi: 10.3928/0098-9134-19990601-07.


Agitated behaviors of individuals with Alzheimer's disease (AD), often endured or unsuccessfully treated with chemical or physical restraints, markedly increase the stress levels of family caregivers. The Theoretical Model for Aggression in the Cognitively Impaired guided the examination of caregiver-provided slow-stroke massage on the diffusion of actual and potential agitation for community-dwelling individuals with AD. Characteristics and frequency of agitation were quantified by two highly correlated instruments, the Agitated Behavior Rating Scale Scoring Guide and the Brief Behavior Symptom Rating Scale. Expressions of agitation of patients with AD increased in a linear pattern from dawn to dusk. Verbal displays of agitation, the most frequently cited form of agitation in community-dwelling individuals with AD, were not diffused by slow-stroke massage. However, the more physical expressions of agitation such as pacing, wandering, and resisting were decreased when slow-stroke massage was applied. This study contributes to building a body of knowledge regarding the phenomenon of agitated behaviors in cognitively impaired elderly individuals--its nature, frequency of occurrence, measurement, associated factors, and management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / complications
  • Alzheimer Disease / nursing*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Female
  • Geriatric Nursing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage* / methods
  • Psychomotor Agitation / etiology
  • Psychomotor Agitation / nursing*
  • Psychomotor Agitation / therapy*