Bodywork Improves Quality of Life for Our Aging Population

By: John W Maynor LMBT #12522

 

Maintaining health and vitality

I am a guardian and care manager for LifeLinks in the Triangle area. My second passion and career as a Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist gives me a unique perspective on the importance of self-care. For our clients, as well as the family caregivers we support, massage can be a source of stress relief and provides many other medical benefits.  

There are almost 35 million Americans who are age 65 or older, and about 2,000 more reach this age every single day. It’s important to find ways of helping our aging loved ones to maintain their health and vitality as the U.S. demographic shifts to an older population, massage and bodywork for the geriatric population is gaining importance as an alternative therapy to increase quality of life. There are many massage and bodywork therapists that are getting specialized training to better serve this growing population.

Special Needs

Although similar in technique to other forms of massage, massage for senior care considers the special needs of the aging client. The specialized practitioner knows about positioning for greatest comfort and will often have the client rest in the same position for the entire massage. This is helpful for seniors who may be bed bound.  Mobility challenges may dictate the massage be done in a bed or a wheelchair. The therapist may also work both sides of the body at the same time to enhance body awareness, or if the client prefers, only work hands and feet. Sessions may be limited to 15 to 35 minutes, since shorter, more frequent massages show better results with older clients.

The specialized geriatric massage and bodywork therapist is aware of health issues associated with the aging population and how to safely work with this type of client and with any associated physicians. The therapist has specialized training on how to individualize the massage service based on the client’s health, mobility, and comfort level.

Benefits of Massage for the Aging

A recent study that was conducted at the Weaver’s Tale Retreat Center in Oregon looked at the effects of massage for aging clients. The results of the two-year study showed that participants experienced a decrease in breathing rate of 50% and an improvement in range of motion, posture, body awareness, muscle tone and skin color. Additionally, it is well documented that caring touch benefits emotional well-being in seniors, a population who is at a greater risk of suffering from depression.

Massage therapy can add, both physically and emotionally, to the quality of a senior’s life and enhance aging life care. A specialized geriatric care manager can get you connected with a reputable and qualified senior Massage and Bodywork Therapist in the Raleigh and surrounding areas.

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