Massage for Seniors: The Benefits of Touch
The power of human touch has been known for ages. Babies thrive when they are held and caressed. We all need that physical touch to know that we are safe, loved and cared for. It is a basic human need. As we get older and our opportunities for interaction and socialization decrease due to living situations, illness and limited mobility, the opportunity for human contact can decrease. During times of illness or hospitalization, the tendency is that we receive touch as part of routine medical care and procedures which can sometimes feel invasive or painful.
Taking the time to rest a hand on someone else’s hand or shoulder and provide meaningful interaction can make all the difference in the world to someone.
Do Seniors benefit from massage?
The positive effects of massage on the health of elderly people are well documented by research. A gentle massage can benefit the circulation and nervous system, so if a gentle touch is required for more frail customers, it will still work just as well as deeper pressure on someone younger.
Geriatric gentle massage is known to help stimulate the circulation naturally and without causing any discomfort, so many older people are happy to give themselves over to the hands of an expert massage therapist when they are feeling tense and in need of healing touch.
One important benefit of massage is that it doesn’t have any side effects and won’t interact with medicines that the elderly person is taking for conditions that often affect them (diabetes, depression, Parkinson’s, dementia and other common conditions.) It is important, however, to let your therapist know what medications are being taken as some meds can contribute to thinning skin and easy bruising.
Elderly people often suffer from symptoms caused by conditions like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. This can often leave them with limited mobility and poor circulation. On top of this, many elderly people can report feeling depressed or even lonely.
Geriatric massage can help boost physical health and helps to improve mood. It also gives older people access to comforting touch.
I often find that seniors are not familiar with or comfortable with the idea of getting a massage because people of their generation just didn’t get massages. They may also have the opinion that massages are not appropriate to receive because of the tainted reputation the massage industry may have had in the past. They don’t realize there are many wonderful health benefits to receiving a massage.
The benefits of touch
- Help boost quality of life and self-esteem.
- Improve sleep quality
- Relieve stress, depression and even loneliness
- Provide relief for headaches and other aches and pains
- Restore some lost mobility due to Parkinson’s disease, arthritis and other limiting conditions.
How is massage tailored to Seniors?
Geriatric massage uses some of the same techniques you’ll find in general massage, but tailored to the specific needs of elderly people.
- Comfortable positioning during a massage is very important and some elderly clients may not be able to recline due to breathing problems or may need extra pillows and padding. They may also need help getting on and off the massage table. I will assess your moblity and comfort level throughout your session.
- Some people may feel uncomfortable with or have difficulty removing clothing for a massage session. That is not an issue as I can easily provide a great massage over clothing to help my client maintain modesty and a sense of security.
- I can use gentle techniques; gentle movements are used that are designed to be soothing at the same time as improving circulation. This can be especially helpful if someone has a diabetic foot condition or has a build-up of muscle tension.
- Gentle hands and feet massage to sooth swollen joints, and relieve stiffness.
- Stronger movements, friction and pressure can be used with care to help improve flexibility in larger areas like shoulders.
Massage is a lovely therapy that can be enjoyed by people of all ages – if you know someone who would benefit from massage, but thinks it’s not for them because they are ‘too old’ – treat them to a session and see if you can put the smile back on their face.