Massage for Seniors: A Healthy Gift

Monday April 20, 2015

The effects of touch have been the focus of an enormous amount of research in recent years. The results show that human beings thrive on touch and a deficiency (“cutaneous deprivation”) can lead to emotional disturbances and lessened intellectual ability. Studies also reveal that a lack of touch is associated with immune system depression, while positive touch is associated with stimulation of the immune system.  The need for touch does not diminish with aging. In fact, it seems to increase.

Just as with any other age group, massage has proven to be physically beneficial for the more mature, too. Massage has been shown to improve circulation of both blood and lymph, soften tight muscles, and enhance function of the digestive and respiratory processes. Administering touch to seniors can also increase appetites, decrease the need for pain medications, calm agitated states, promote restful sleep, and decrease recovery time following surgery.

Arthritis and related conditions are the leading cause of disability in the United States. Massage relieves joint and body stiffness, easing chronic pain. It also releases endorphins, which act as a natural painkiller in the bloodstream. One drop of endorphin is as strong as ten drops of morphine. It’s no wonder massage feels so wonderful!

Falls are the leading cause of injury to older Americans— one in three people over 65 fall each year.  Tightness in leg muscles can hinder the ability to catch oneself in order to prevent a fall, while tension in anterior neck muscles can cause dizziness.  By moving joints gently through their range of motion, massage lubricates the joints from inside, giving seniors more mobility and flexibility.

But beyond the physical, massage has emotional benefits for the mature client.   The recipient feels comforted and cared for, anxiety and depression are mitigated, while vitality and general health are improved. A person who feels better after a massage may also be more inclined to be physically active or to socialize with others. As an individual relaxes, daily frustrations can seem less overwhelming.

Multiple studies suggest massage therapy can be especially beneficial to seniors and therefore could be a valuable part of a wellness program for them.  It is a very effective way not only to help them to regain range of motion and flexibility lost through aging, stroke or other health concerns, but also to maintain their health in later years.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are almost here! Now is the perfect time to give the seniors in your life a gift card for a massage package along with, or in lieu of, flowers and ties!

For more information, please see front desk staff or speak with a massage therapist.

 

 

—   Michelle Taylor, LMBT #6648