Massage for the elderly has various physical and mental benefits, which results in the improvement of health and general well-being. The techniques used for senior citizens differ greatly from those used with younger individuals so massage therapists strive to understand those differences in order to better treat their patients.
The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork has been at the forefront of the promotion of massage for the elderly for many years. The board promotes massage as a treatment for the management and prevention of age-related diseases and views it as a good alternative to less natural pharmaceutical treatments. With regular massage, the quality of life is greatly increased, allowing the older patients to feel younger, healthier, and balanced.
Massage for the elderly involves gentle stroking, kneading, and the application of light pressure on specific points. Studies by the Touch Research Institute shows that massage facilitates communication and relaxation, and is therefore an effective therapy in the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients. The manipulation of specific points on the body has also been shown to promote the natural lubrication of joints, greatly assisting in the pain management of patients suffering from the stiffness of arthritis.
Therapists administering massage for senior citizens are also trained to incorporate stretching in the massage session. The specific stretching technique involves the application of just enough pressure on the joints, soft tissue, and muscles to make the massage safe for an older individual while still retaining its efficacy. Patients greatly benefit from massage by gaining an increased range of motion, strengthening of muscles while reducing tension, and a higher quality night’s sleep. Those who undergo regular massage have reported sleeping deeper and for longer, which allows the body time to regenerate and repair itself, resulting in an overall state of greater well-being. Massage also improves posture and reduces tension that accumulates in the muscles over many years. This not only assists seniors in obtaining higher quality rest but also helps them avoid and manage painful age-related conditions, such as degenerative disc disorder and spinal stenosis.
Studies have shown that the effects of aging take place faster in people lacking mental stimulation and who engage in little physical activity. Further studies have shown a link between a reduction in physical activity to an increase in depression, which leads to many age-related diseases and conditions. Due to the connection between the physical and mental, any treatment for the aged should aid in improving the balance between the two. By manipulating the body and stimulating the mind, massage provides the perfect balance needed for an individual’s health to thrive.