According to the Statista Research Department, over 6 million Americans use professional massage four times or more within a 6-month period during 2020. There is no question the massage industry is booming, but many think such services are exclusive to the wealthy or professional athletes.
In truth, people in all age groups benefit from professional massage, particularly those over the age of 65. Today, we’ll break down the benefits of massage for the senior community and answer some of your most common questions.
What qualifies as a massage?
Massage therapy manipulates the soft tissues of the body and has been practiced in most cultures throughout history. While the most common type of massage in the Western world is Swedish, or classic, massage, other styles are also popular such as sports massage, clinical massage, and practices from Eastern cultures like shiatsu.
Isn’t massage just about rubbing the body’s muscles?
No! Massage therapy is so much more than that, though kneading and massaging muscle tissue can certainly be part of massage. Massage techniques can be used to stretch out and relieve tension in the fascia, the tissue that connects muscles, bones, and organs. Massage can also be used to move fluid around in the body, loosening joints and reducing swelling in certain areas. Lymphatic massage is often used to reduce painful swelling due to a buildup of lymph—the fluid that moves through the body fighting infections—in extremities.
What is the best massage technique for seniors?
As the body ages, pain and stiffness can become commonplace and negatively impact quality of life. A technique called geriatric massage is often implemented with seniors, offering relaxation, stress relief, and relief of age-related physical symptoms.
What are the benefits of massage for seniors?
Massage therapy offers many benefits to senior citizens, including:
- Relief from Pain Associated with Osteoporosis – Recent research indicates soft tissue massage can provide relief to patients suffering from osteoporosis related pain. Always check with your primary physician before starting a therapeutic massage protocol.
- Improved Sleep – Massage therapy has been found to improve sleep in postmenopausal women and many seniors report sleeping more deeply and for longer periods of time after receiving weekly massages.
- Reducing Depression – Recent research has noted when massage therapy is used to treat chronic pain, patients also report a decrease in depression symptoms that lasts longer than when treated with standardized medicine.
- Decreased Agitation in Alzheimer Patients – Slow-stroke massage has been found to be particularly effective in reducing levels of agitation in seniors living with Alzheimer’s. A recent study found that slow-stroke massage reduced the occurrence of certain agitated behaviors such as pacing and wandering.
- Could Catch Other Serious Diseases Early – During a massage, much of the body is exposed and more massage therapists are undergoing training to look for and identify potential skin cancers in areas seniors cannot see. This is particularly important for seniors who live alone and do not have a partner to help them look for suspicious lesions.
Massage therapy can play an important role in seniors maintaining their quality of life. Therapeutic massage affects both physical and mental wellbeing and, as we age, massage can help alleviate many of the physical and emotional challenges that are a natural part of the aging process.