Top 5 benefits of massage therapy for elderly

Elderly massage

Massage therapy for the elderly or young people is honoured as one of the most ancient care practices, demonstrated to have multiple benefits and a holistic effect on the overall health and wellbeing. Massages may be conducted as a medical recommendation to complement a recovery planning, such as they can be included in the overall prevention routine. Customary, a person stepping into a massage practice for medical reasons is cared for as a patient. In contrast, a client’s motivations are related to wellbeing.

Is there an age limit for body massage?

Massage therapy can be enjoyed regardless of age. Beyond local customs, restrictions may arise in regards to certain practices or upon the effect of professional policies. Therapists are expected, however, by work ethics, to inform potential patients or clients of the types of massage they are not permitted to conduct for certain age groups.

As they agree to the therapy or experience, patients or clients are also presented with the professional settings and conditions in which they shall benefit from the massage. Therapists also address elements of discomfort for reasons related to the position in which the massage shall be applied, as well as the extent to which the patient or client agrees to remain unclothed.

Beyond issues related to modesty, the settings and conditions in which massage therapy is conducted call the necessity to adjust pressure, movement, and intensity within the practice. The specific needs of elderly patients and clients have inspired a distinctive range of techniques studied to provide pain relief, promoting blood circulation, and stimulate motion. However, geriatric massage is nevertheless applied in complete consideration to the sensitivity of ageing skin and muscles, whereas sessions are recommended to be reduced to 30 minutes.

Massages for elderly - cautions

When preparing for applying a geriatric massage, by work ethics, therapists consult the patients’ or clients' health status for conditions and sensitivities which may exclude certain practices. When attending patients, the therapist should request information on cautions from their healthcare team. Even when welcoming clients outside a healthcare specialist’s recommendation, therapists should focus on communicating eventual sensitivities. For example, when a patient or a client complains of burning calf aches, therapists are expected to recognise risks of phlebitis and not massage the area. Furthermore, a patient or a client’s medication is also essential. Nevertheless, therapists are also cautious in regards to the room temperature at which they shall apply the massage.

Therapeutic massage
Usually, it’s safe to use a massage chair at home as there isn’t an age limit for body massage

The patients’ or clients’ mobility and flexibility determine body placement. Ageing skin presents a thinning structure which makes long strokes harmful. Stretching, as well as pressure shall be avoided. Deep tissue massage presents a high risk of aggravating osteoporosis. If the patient or client has experienced a blood clot or an aneurism, therapists shall not proceed with the massage. Thinning skin also exhibits higher sensitivity to hot stones or other objects. Signs of injuries, surgeries, burn wounds, open sores, eczemas, enlarged lymph nodes, and skin ulcers shall not be massaged.

The actual benefits of massage for seniors

Massage therapy represents one of the most beneficial routines to complement an elderly person’s health care plan and that’s why using a full body massage chair at home is, in most cases, a great idea. Blood circulation and physical mobility become more vulnerable with age, exposing one to various health conditions and illnesses, while also affecting post injury recovery. Massage therapy can also be recommended for kidney or digestive diseases due to its effect on the lymphatic flow, contributing to the release of toxic substances. In an optimal state of health, massage therapy improves quality of sleep.

Massage increase blood flow

The positive impact of massage therapy on blood circulation can be traced to two key dynamics. The first one cis connected to the impact of tense muscles which block the circulation of oxygen-rich blood. When stimulated, muscles are released of stress, allowing an optimal blood flow. The second effect through which massage contributes to an improved blood circulation is related to the release of endorphins. Especially for seniors struggling with loneliness, geriatric massage can also impact wellbeing through the effect of touch and human interaction on anxiety, depression, and overall quality of life. The release of endorphins is scientifically demonstrated to improve blood circulation.

Stimulates the nervous system

Massage therapy represents a pillar in the post-stroke recovery plan, due to its direct effect on regaining sensorimotor functions. As the patient gradually connects to their sensorial capacity, managing therapy relieves anxiety. Studies also reveal a positive effect of massage therapy in memory. When conducted on patients living with Alzheimer’s disease, repetitive touch acted as a stimulus on body memory, triggering more recollections. The impact on body memory has an additional soothing effect on signs of agitation.

Increase flexibility

Muscular stiffness has been previously described as a key cause of poor blood circulation. However, tension in muscles limits both motion and flexibility. Massage therapy is praised as being more effective on muscle stiffness than medication. Furthermore, unlike mediation massage therapy can be adjusted to one particular muscle.

Ease back pain

Musculoskeletal pain affects 85% of the senior population. The first mild sensation of back pain is expected to be experienced prior to the age of 50. Back pain is related to an erosion of the spinal joints cartilage, as well as to a decrease in bone density which appears with age. Studies conducted on a 63 years’ old patient suffering from the four main causes of back pain: spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, scoliosis indicate not only an improved quality of life, but also a decrease in medication. Following a 4 massage daily regimen over 20 days the patient described a significant improvement in his ability to walk, as well as a return to cycling after years of being prevented by his chronic back pain.

Relieves arthritis pain

Prior to the massage session, the patient or client is recommended to communicate the therapists which joints are the most affected by arthritis. Therapists can adjust their techniques for specific needs related to rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Regardless of the type of arthritis, massage can reduce swelling and increase mobility, by improving joints and tendons flexibility. Nevertheless, massage can also sooth arthritis pain.

Types of massages recommended for seniors

Therapists adapt their practice to a mild to moderate pressure. Techniques can also be complemented through the beneficial effects of essential oils.

How a full body massage chair can help you feel better

Massage therapy doesn’t necessarily require a practitioner’s intervention. Holistically adjusted in position and intensity, professional body massage chairs with zero gravity position can bring the benefit of a therapist’s expertise right into our homes. As previously argued, chronic stress represents one of the most impactful causes of the elderly’s deteriorated health, with a direct consequence on their muscles’ flexibility, motion, and blood circulation. Studies (more info, here) reveal how a six-month routine of using body massage chairs decreased the release of the stress hormone cortisol, reducing depression and improving overall health.

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