The elderly are a special population that I feel is often overlooked as far as massage goes. They need it and the demand will just continue to grow as our elderly population is growing. We are living longer and need massage to help us stay healthy. I recently took my students on a massage chair event to a retirement community. They are all about making the elderly independent, active and really enjoy life. The staff members were sharing with us that in the medical world, there is only one health care physician to every 6 elderly. This is a huge problem. The elderly need care and are open to holistic alternatives. This is great for us massage therapists. What a difference we can make for them!
So what can we do?
First, we need to change our view of the aging process. Society has told us that getting old is terrible. When you turn 40, you’re “over the hill” and friends decorate the party with black decor and tombstones. If we live to be 80 years old, at 40 we have another full 40 years to live! We need to realize as we age we are more comfortable with ourselves and have gained wisdom through our personal experiences.
Second, we need to think about what massage can do for the elderly to make their lives better. Massage increases circulation and lymphatic flow. Both of these systems help with removing waste and toxins. Blood flow also brings nutrient rich blood to the tissue and blood cells to repair the tissue and pathologies. This can help an elderly client’s immunity and improve and decrease pain caused by damaged tissues. How about the elderly struggles with blood pressure? Massage reduces blood pressure, too! Many elderly have arthritis and lack of mobility. Adding range of motion to your massage help stimulate synovial fluid which lubricates the joints to increase movement.
As we age, we have to deal with not being able to do all the things we once could. This can cause depression, anxiety, and negative thoughts. Massage is great for the whole body: physical, spiritual, and emotional. Massage can have a huge impact on depression and anxiety. Our patients can get off our table feeling reconnected with themselves and whole again.
Let’s not forget about our elderly – we will be in their situation one day, too.