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Benefits of Massage Therapy for the Elderly

Has your loved one been complaining about aches and pains, or the fact that their medications just don’t seem to be working as well as they used to? If so, the answer that you as a caregiver have been searching for may be geriatric massage, a non-pharmaceutical approach for pain management and prevention.

Let’s begin by defining geriatric massage. This form of massage was created to meet specific needs that are often associated with the elderly. During a geriatric massage, the therapist will use his or her hands to manipulate the body’s soft tissues to improve blood circulation, increase range of motion and, last but not least, relieve pain.

As you have probably seen firsthand with your aging loved one, the elderly often times suffer from a variety of age-related afflictions such as strokes, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and Parkinson’s.

Through geriatric massages, your aging loved one can maintain or improve his or her overall health, not to mention the possibility of regaining certain physical functions that he or she might have lost due to old age or an illness.

The techniques that are used for senior citizens are much different than those that are used for younger people.  At its core, geriatric massage utilizes some of the basic techniques as other massage methods. However, geriatric massages are designed to fit the specific needs of certain health conditions that are often associated with the elderly.

Here are some characteristics of geriatric massages:

  • Gentle massaging of the feet and hands – if the joints are not inflamed – in order to prevent stiffness and relieve pain
  • Use of gentle massage hand motions which are comfortable and soothing to your loved one’s body. These movements are designed to help improve blood circulation, and work well for diabetics to relieve muscle tension and relax the body and mind as well.
  • Sessions are generally short and usually last no longer than 30 minutes
  • On occasion, stronger movements like pressure strokes and friction will be applied; these types of movements are used on areas such as the shoulders to improve flexibility

Now that you know some of the basic characteristics of geriatric massages, here are the benefits:

  • Relief of stress, depression and anxiety
  • Improvement in the length and quality of sleep
  • Mental and physical relaxation
  • Acceleration of the healing process due to injury or illness
  • Partial restoration of mobility that is lost because of illnesses like Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, stroke, etc

In short, massages are no longer reserved just for health clubs and luxury spas. They can now be used as an effective treatment for reducing muscle tension, pain, stress and other effects of illnesses often experienced by elderly patients.

However, just like any other treatment, it is necessary to consult your loved one’s physician before beginning a regular massage schedule.

Sources:

http://www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id=14775

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St. Barnabas Health System,
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St. Barnabas Health System
5850 Meridian Road
Gibsonia, PA 15044

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