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Seniors Can Find Mental and Physical Health Boosts From Massage

25 Jun 2013

Bodywork techniques vary from group to group – no one practice is right for everyone, and that’s especially true when it comes to caring for the elderly.  While massage has great emotional and physical benefits for seniors, therapists will find that they need to fine-tune their techniques when working with older clients because their health needs and bodies’ responses are different than those of younger individuals.

For many years, the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork has been promoting massage as extremely beneficial for the management and prevention of age-related conditions.  Massage therapy is an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs which allows seniors to live more comfortably and enjoy a greater quality of life.  This is especially true for those who suffer from arthritis.  But due to the very relaxing nature of massage, it’s also a very supportive treatment for Alzheimer’s patients.

In working with the elderly, a light touch is best.  Gently stroking and kneading muscles facilitates relaxation, and incorporating gentle stretching into the bodywork session can help reduce stiffness and increase range of motion.

When encouraging stretching with an elderly patient, the pressure should be just enough to help the client stretch, but still keeping it within the range of tolerance.  Elderly clients may have an increased sensitivity to pressure, and so moving gently is the best practice.   Gentle manipulation of certain body areas can also help with joint lubrication, which diminishes as a person ages.  But massage therapy can offset that somewhat.

One great side benefit of massage which seniors who have regular massages is that they sleep longer and deeper.  This in itself is beneficial, because quality sleep is vital to the body’s repair and regeneration processes.  Sufficient sleep also helps an individual cope with pain, and can also help reduce anxiety and other mental stresses.  Massage therapy can also help improve posture, which is important to management of age -related conditions such as scoliosis and disc degeneration.   The reduction in discomfort also promotes more restful sleep.

Lastly, seniors partaking of regular massages have a higher physical activity level as well as mental stimulation, both of which are essential to a higher quality of life.   A decrease in physical activity can lead to depression.  The mind-body connection is extremely important, and a massage therapist has the opportunity to assist elderly patients in managing their physical and mental conditions.

CenterPoint Massage & Shiatsu Therapy School & Clinic offers education in a variety of bodywork disciplines, preparing therapists to serve a wide range of special-needs populations, including the elderly.


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