Dementia is increasingly prevalent in older populations. Here are three spa treatments and services that may reduce dementia risk.
Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are frightening and very prevalent in the older global population.
About 10-20 percent of people over age 65 have some form of cognitive impairment, and one in six people over age 80 have dementia. Sixty-two percent of dementia cases are Alzheimer’s disease. And as we are living longer, this is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. We simple don’t have enough resources and caregivers to look after the growing number of people with dementia. It’s quite terrifying, actually.
Lifestyle choices can affect dementia risk
Research in this area has found that, despite the hereditary nature of dementia and Alzheimer’s, there are lifestyle factors that may affect outcomes. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, drinking in moderation, and not smoking are some of the key factors that may affect dementia risk (along with the risk of many other diseases). There is also research suggesting that treatments and services offered by spas – including massage, saunas and skincare – may play a role in staving off cognitive decline.
Read on for the potential brain health benefits of visiting a spa, and be sure to communicate these findings to your guests.
Massage can help control blood pressure, which is linked to cognitive decline.
The correlation between dementia and high blood pressure is considered to be well established. According to the American National Institute of Neurological Disorders, high blood pressure has been linked to cognitive decline, stroke, and types of dementia that damage the white matter regions of the brain.
In a 2009 study, deep-tissue massage was found to reduce blood pressure and heart rate. 263 participants, with an average age of 48, received deep-tissue massage to examine its effect on diastolic, systolic and mean arterial blood pressure and heart rate. The researchers found significant reductions in average systolic pressure, diastolic pressure, and mean arterial pressure, as well as a reduction in average heart rate. “The present study demonstrates a high correlation between deep-tissue massage and reduction in blood pressure and heart rate,” the study’s authors reportedly said. “These data are encouraging and positive, representing optimism and a hopeful outlook for future research in this area.”
Frequent sauna bathing is associated with dramatically reduced risk of dementia
A 2017 study from the University of Eastern Finland found that frequent sauna bathing was linked to a reduced risk of dementia in men. The study followed more than 2,300 Finnish men, aged 42 – 60, for more than 20 years and found that the most frequent sauna users had the lowest risk of dementia compared with less frequent users.
Men who went to the sauna four to seven times a week were 66% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia, and 65% less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, than those taking a sauna once a week. Study author Jari Laukkanen took into account other lifestyle factors, like physical activity and socioeconomic factors and said, “There is an independent effect of sauna on these outcomes.”
Previously released results from the same study suggested that men who take frequent saunas also have a lower risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) and all-cause mortality.
Moisturizing your skin is correlated with lower levels of inflammatory markers related to dementia
A 2019 study at the University of California San Francisco and the San Francisco Veterans Administration (VA) Health Care System found that moisturizing your skin may help prevent diseases associated with aging, including Alzheimer’s-related dementia.
Inflammation is another factor that is known to be correlated with age-related dementia. And researchers recently discovered that the skin may be the secret to controlling inflammation.
The researchers attempted to reverse age-related skin damage in 33 adults, aged 58 – 95, using an over-the-counter skin cream that participants applied all over their bodies twice a day for 30 days. At the end of the 30 days, the use of the cream was associated with lowered levels of three cytokines that have been implicated in the age-related inflammatory diseases. In fact, using the cream lowered participants’ cytokine levels to nearly those found in people in their 30s. The cream also improved skin hydration, lowered pH, and repaired the permeability barrier.
Lead study lead author Theodora Mauro, said, “The overall risk to the population from aging skin could far outweigh that seen from skin diseases. Decreasing inflammation simply by treating the skin dysfunction seen in aging could have profound health effects.”
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