Fighting Alzheimer’s with Shiatsu


Experiences relating to collaborative projects between Shiatsu operators and medical facilities located in assisted living facilities and sheltered homes are multiplying. We take as an example the working group of Polaris Shiatsu Institute® in Roma(Italia), in the Villa Sabrina Protected Residence in Terni(Italia), in the Villa Romani Retirement Home in Roma(Italia) and at the San Giovanni di Dio-Fatebenefratelli Institute in Roma(Italia), where there is a nucleus doctor for serious cognitive behavioral disorders. Another important experience is located in Orvieto(Italia), in the “Non ti scordar di me” Protected Residence, with a project called “Shiatsu & Alzheimer”, conceived and supported by the Alzheimer Association of Orvieto and implemented by Shiatsu operator and teacher Daniela Piola, project manager.

The various experiences are continuously developing and growing, with the main objective of improving the quality of life of Alzheimer’s patients and collecting useful information for a study of the shared experience.

The orientation of the focus towards people suffering from Alzheimer’s is aimed at obviously not replacing the indispensable conventional medical approach, but rather being a valid and precious complementary and synergistic tool to medical treatments.

To this end, Shiatsu treatment is an effective support for these people, in order to delay the harmful effects and alleviate the progress of the disease.

Shiatsu has proven to be a discipline that helps people suffering from Alzheimer’s to relax, to breathe deeper and to calm states of psychomotor agitation; the elderly person’s gaze, from lost in the void and absent, transforms into lucid and present, the person gains trust in the operator who carries out the treatment and recognizes him every time, thus carving out an intimate moment of personal well-being.

The person suffering from dementia thus has the possibility of communicating with another person, through another easy and accessible channel, stimulating their proprioception by being touched on the body and developing the pleasant sensations that we all know, attributable to Shiatsu acupressure.


One of the most beautiful poems on Alzheimer’s explains what a patient feels and what he lives…imprisoned in his mind:


Don’t ask me to remember,

don’t try to make me understand,

let me rest.

Let me know you’re with me,

hug me and hold my hands. I’m sad

sick and lost, all I know is that

I need you.Don’t lose patience with me,

do not judge me,

Don’t scold me and don’t cry please.

I can’t do anything about what happens to me,

even if I try to be different

I can not make it.

Remember that I need you.

That the best of me is already gone

And he will never return.

Don’t abandon me, stay by my side,

as I have always been at yours

when you were a child.

Love me and take care of me

Until my last breath.

I will always be your Guardian Angel,

because I love you and you will always be the most important thing in my life.

(Elena Franchini).

Shiatsu on elderly people, in addition to causing beneficial relaxation, produces positive effects by rebalancing the mood, combating insomnia, once again promoting the willingness to socialize and physically inducing a more correct posture and a more stable balance, the latter useful for reducing the risks of disastrous falls and consequently serious orthopedic problems.

Classical Chinese Medicine considers aging as the consequence of the gradual and progressive consumption throughout life of Jing (quintessence or root) which we can consider a potential energy, ideally contained in the kidneys, which in Western terms can be way to equate to life expectancy.

Serious diseases such as Alzheimer’s contribute to consuming this energy much more quickly, penalizing organs such as the kidneys and brain and affecting the Organic Meridians of the viscera and the so-called Extraordinary Meridians, on which we will intervene during treatments.

On some Italian projects, specific tests were carried out at the beginning and after six weeks of treatments.

This made it possible to evaluate the influence and positive effects of Shiatsu on the evolution of the disease, based on the statistical improvement of these tests used.

The favorable results therefore recommend the inclusion of Shiatsu in addition to medical therapies, in medium-advanced forms of Alzheimer’s, with excellent prospects even in the less serious initial forms.

On the latter, Shiatsu helps maintain people’s vitality, recovering energy, comfort and counteracting the psychological effects of confusion and discomfort, due to a progressive impairment of memory and intellectual abilities.

Through acupressure on the energy meridians, Shiatsu promotes an improvement in various psycho-physical aspects, i.e. a slowing down of cognitive decline and a decrease in the frequency of behavioral disorders, which would inevitably affect social relationships with people’s family members and care-givers sick, who inevitably face situations of strong mental and physical stress for many hours of the day.

In conclusion, these pilot projects have demonstrated the absolute usefulness of a technique such as Shiatsu, which it is hoped will be put more at the service of the various socio-health and hospital structures, but also within the family environment, to achieve a decisive quality leap in the life of the patient and those who care for him.