Teresa ClarkstonA well done massage can be an incredibly relaxing experience, one that can wash away the tensions of a long day. It is easy to assume to that the elderly don’t have the same tensions as the young, but that isn’t true. Senior citizens face a wide variety of mental and emotional problems ranging from loneliness, depression and isolation. Also, their bodies often carry the ill-effects of a lifetime of work and stress.

As massage therapy evolves and becomes more specific, a recent advancement in the field is geriatric massage therapy. This kind of massage is targeted specially at senior citizens. It usually includes 30 minute to hour-long sessions in a facility, a senior citizens’ home, or residence. The geriatric massage therapist starts with helping the patient to passively stretch his or her shoulders, arms, legs, and feet. Soft massage strokes are then applied to various parts of the body, and the therapist is careful not to press too hard. The therapist may often focus on the back, and the aim is to improve cardiovascular health and circulation.

The benefits of geriatric massage therapy can be many for a senior citizen. The most immediate benefit is decreasing the stiffness of the body and reducing inflammation. Like all massages, this one too helps with improving blood circulation and posture. This in itself has many related health benefits, and because of this a geriatric massage once a week is an effective preventive therapy. For those citizens who suffer from age-related ailments like arthritis, diabetes or Parkinson, massage can improve the circulation of lymphatic fluid, providing some relief from these problems.

Yet another, deeper benefit from this massage is immeasurable. The massage helps senior citizens with physical and emotional problems connect with other people. This helps them fight feelings of isolation, restlessness, and uselessness that many of the elderly have. Any good massage therapist develops a strong emotional and physical bond with the patient, and this can greatly benefit the elderly. This sort of physical activity provides older people with emotional and mental support that can help them live the sunsets of their lives with strength and dignity.

Massage therapy is particularly valuable for the aches and pains associated with growing older. Currently, with the drastic rise in the number of aging baby-boomers, many massage therapists are opting to learn massage techniques that are specifically designed to help the elderly achieve mind-body harmony. This age-specific massage is either called senior’s massage or geriatric massage.

Senior massage doesn’t differ much in technique compared to massage for regular adults. However the techniques used must keep in mind that an aging body requires a little extra tender loving care. Specially trained geriatric massage therapists are aware that an elderly body must be positioned carefully on a massage table, compared to a healthy 30-year-old body. Great care is taken in the positioning of an elderly client, and once positioned on the massage table, a senior will rarely ever be asked to move, as is so typical with other types of massage.

Senior massage sessions will typically range from 30-mintues to an hour. However, when mobility is an issue for example the client is wheelchair-bound the massage therapist will be forced to adapt and the massage can take longer. For example, if the client is bound to a wheelchair, the massage therapist will administer massage to the client right in the chair.

Geriatric massage practitioners will often spend more time on the hands and feet of their clients – especially if the client doesn’t walk or have full use of their hands. In cases such as these, a hand or foot massage can enhance body awareness, sensation and circulation in certain parts of an aging body.

The benefits of geriatric massage are numerous. Massage does the usual for seniors by encouraging circulation, decreasing muscular stiffness, and helping to decrease inflammation that may rest in the joints. However, it also treats so many of the typical conditions that arise with age – such as muscular stiffness, arthritis, skin discoloration, muscle and bone deterioration, tendonitis, bursitis, and respiratory problems such as asthma and emphysema.

Furthermore, the benefits of enjoying the simple pleasure of human touch and company for just a brief period of time is priceless for many lonely and depressed seniors. Careful massage can help provide the elderly with symptomatic relief and enable seniors to extend the vitality in their lives.

Geriatric massage is a growing practice within the field of Massage Therapy. It focuses on the specific needs of the aging population in the prevention, assessment and treatment of the joints and soft tissue systems of the body. In some cases the objective is to maintain or enhance optimal functioning in healthy soft tissues, at other times, pain relief and specific dysfunction and disease is addressed.

The need for physical touch and its benefits are another important reason why people are using geriatric massage. In general, the field of geriatrics is one of increasing focus as we have more people entering the older adult years than in any time in history. Many services are aimed at meeting the needs of this population with a focus on increasing quality of life. Geriatric massage can be performed by most massage therapists by modifying their existing techniques and positioning to meet the needs of this population. As massage therapists, we do not diagnose medical conditions and therefore it is very important to work as part of a multidisciplinary team to ensure that a person is receiving medical care to diagnose any signs and symptoms that are occurring in the older adult years.  If you are looking for such a team, you may contact Total Health Systems of Macomb County for a consultation today.

RESOURCES:

www.massagetherapy101.com/massage

www.geriatricmassagetherapy.com

www.yogawiz.com/…/massage therapy benefits of geriatric