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Massage & the Elderly

As we age, all of us begin to awaken with new little aches & pains that we hadn't noticed before.  Perhaps we slept wrong or moved wrong or didn't move enough during the night & now we're paying for it.  We've all experienced joint discomfort at some point or another.  But imagine that as your every day reality.  If you or someone you love has this kind of pain on a regular basis, it can be very discouraging.  Chronic pain & discomfort can lead to depression because a person feel as though they'll never get better.  Oftentimes join & muscle problems can affect the nerves surrounding the tissue & they can also end up with sharper, stabbing pains, or tingling and numbness.  Any of these issues can be cause to seek out help from a massage therapist.

Massage can benefit seniors & the elderly in several ways. Increasing blood flow to different areas of the body is perhaps the single greatest benefit.  Poor circulation often precedes many problems in the elderly.  If there is poor circulation, it is difficult to utilize those areas of the body.  It is also difficult to maintain proper body temperature without good circulation.
Finding a really reputable massage therapist in your area may be a difficult task.  The best thing to do is to ask around for recommendations.  You will learn quickly that the person with the best website or the largest ad in the phone book is not necessarily the best person to meet your needs.  Advertising and massage therapy take entirely different skill sets, so do not be swayed by their marketing.  In these cases it is imperative that you find someone who has been to them & has a good report.  If you find recommendations for several therapists, narrow your search to those who have worked successfully with the aging population.  You could even begin calling, at that point, to ask more direct questions of the therapists themselves.

Another benefit is the full relaxation of the muscles that are being worked on.  If the muscles are too tight, injuries can be more common.  Relieving that muscle tension can be a key in helping the joints to be more mobile & the muscles to have full range of motion. Be sure that the therapist you're working on is aware of how to work on muscles covered by aging skin.  Aging skin is much more prone to tearing, so a very gentle approach will be needed.  It takes an expert to be able to effectively massage the muscles in an elderly patient while maintaining the integrity of the skin.

Physical human contact can be a mood booster for the elderly, as well.  Studies are available that show the importance of human contact to each of us.  In elderly patients, this can be even more important because, often, their human contact becomes less over time.  If the person is able to have a great massage & a great conversation at the same time, it can do much for them physically & emotionally.  Relieving stress & anxiety  in the process of the massage is such a huge benefit, that many people sign up for weekly massages, opting for this instead of anti-anxiety drugs.

If the elderly person you're helping is recovering from surgery or chemotherapy, massage has been shown to help with these situations, as well.  Post-op massage is much more targeted to the areas affected by the surgery, but by increasing blood flow, can bring faster healing to the areas that are in need.  Massage during the chemo process can help to relieve the nausea associated with the chemotherapy drugs.  If the person you care about does have special circumstances like this, be sure to let the therapist know your concerns and ask any questions you might have.

Massage has a number of benefits for all people.  Sometimes they get overlooked as our loved ones age because our society tends to be more medically minded.  If some of the ailments that they suffer with can be alleviated through massage, however, think of how much better that will be for them physically, emotionally and financially!


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