Touch is a very powerful sensation, one that can easily be overlooked. Massage utilizes the sense of touch in a positive way, releasing oxytocin in the brain which offers many benefits both when it comes to health and the client’s mental state. That is why so many enjoy it, and these benefits apply to everyone. As such, the elderly should not be excluded.
The health benefits of massage can be immense and are widespread. HospitalNews.com highlights that geriatric massage can improve circulation, offer pain relief, and improve range of motion. TotalHealthSystems.com notes that the practice of massage is good for arthritis, diabetes, and Parkinson’s. Also, massage can offer relief from stiffness and inflammation as well as improve sensation in the client.
Still, geriatric massage looks different than that which you would give to a younger adult. The practices and techniques are designed to fit the client’s specific needs. As such, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Clients of geriatric massage require a gentle touch. Their skin, muscles, and frame are more sensitive than most. A gentle but firm touch is best and will be most beneficial.
- When kneading during a massage, apply minimal pressure while still applying enough to be effective. This will ensure that your client is not uncomfortable or injured while still feeling the effects of the massage.
- Use lotion or oils when massaging to soften dry skin and avoid irritation.
- Look about incorporating products that specialize in easing daily body aches, such as the massage cube infused with hemp isolate.
- Sessions should be short so the whole experience is beneficial and not overwhelming for the client. Some clients may not be able to stay still in certain positions for extended periods or be comfortable undergoing the massage for too long either.
Above all else, the combination of your client’s comfort and health benefits are most important. Keep these at the forefront when offering up a geriatric massage.
Massage Joy also offers several approaches to geriatric massage that enable flexibility during sessions. As each client’s abilities will vary, perhaps even from appointment to appointment, the ability to be flexible and take things slow or in a different direction when needed is key.
- Some clients will be in a wheelchair, but massage can be given while they remain in the chair. You are still able to reach their neck, shoulders, and a good portion of their back.
- Some clients will not be comfortable on a massage table or laying on their stomachs. Ask these clients to lay on their sides instead if they are able.
- Foot and hand massages can also be offered for clients who prefer to lay on their backs.
This is just an introduction to the soothing practice of geriatric massage. The benefits of physical touch are enormous and should be available for all. Age and mobility should not exclude the elderly from sharing in the improved quality of life that massage can offer. The next time you find yourself with the opportunity to offer this relaxing and rejuvenating practice to an elderly client, you will better be able to meet them where they are.
Written by Sharayah Hooper
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio