How many seniors have had a massage, performed by a professional massage therapist, lately — or even ever?
Probably not very many and certainly not all who could benefit from one. Sitting still and having a stranger touch them is probably something with which they have very little experience and possibly anxiety. Overcoming the anxiety those feelings present for them could be difficult, as it could for many of us.
Those not getting massages now may be missing out on more than you realize.
Recent information tells us that there could be real health benefits associated with getting a massage from a massage therapist who will work on muscles and other soft body tissue. The goal of massage therapy is to make you feel better, but it may go even deeper than that (pun intended!).
Massage Therapy Benefits
There are many benefits that can come from getting a massage by someone who is trained and really knows what they’re doing.
- Massage can help relieve chronic low back pain and neck pain with improved posture
- For those suffering with cancer, getting a massage is correlated with a better mood and improved pain control; massage has an added benefit of relaxation, too
- Massage can help alleviate depression
- Pain has shown to be decreased in many seniors who suffer from osteoarthritis by softening and lubricating joints
- Hand massage and therapeutic touch has been shown for years to provide relaxation for those suffering with Alzheimer’s disease; a slow-stroke back massage found that physical expressions of agitation such as pacing, wandering and resisting were decreased
- Massage can reduce the general aches and pains of aging
- Allow for deeper sleep
- Going for a foot massage from a therapist with a gentle touch can not only make joints feel better but also provide another way to interact with others to decrease loneliness
- Improving circulation often results, especially with a foot massage
In order to be safe and avoid potential injury or other harm, it is important to discuss your senior’s health history with the massage therapist before getting the first massage. Massage can be combined with stretching to give your senior better range of motion.
Selecting a Massage Therapist
While massage therapists are licensed in most areas of the U.S., skill, experience and quality will vary, as it does for other personal services. You might want to do a little research first rather than just picking one from an ad or a sign you see as you’re driving.
- Ask if they are trained in geriatric massage techniques
- Ask if they have much experience with seniors; often seniors do better with a shorter amount of time per session (30 minutes instead of an hour)
- Ask a friend or doctor for a referral
- The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) has a massage therapist locator you might want to check out
- Ask if they are licensed and insured or have any special certifications or training
- When you meet them, see if they appear professional in dress and manner
- Some massage therapists will make in-home visits if it is difficult to get your senior out to an office (be sure to thoroughly check out anyone you invite to your senior’s home first, of course)
- You may want to investigate whether this form of complementary medicine is covered under your senior’s insurance plan, many do cover the cost; ask the therapist if they are approved providers
Massage for older adults can improve their quality of life by making them feel better, younger and even more balanced.
If your senior hasn’t yet tried massage, now may be a good time to add it to a healthy lifestyle! If it’s something they won’t purchase for themselves, consider giving them one as a gift. Many salons and therapists offer gift cards or certificates.
If it would make a senior loved one feel better about getting a massage, consider getting one with them. It could be a great, relaxing and beneficial time for both of you!