Therapeutic massage helping older people
The human body can be thought of as a vintage car. It starts off new and shiny with everything in perfect working order. As such, we tend to give it a fair ‘thrashing’ in its younger years, but over time as the years and kilometres accumulate, it starts to show signs of wear and tear.
As a result, we need to tinker with it, make some repairs and try to drive it with a little more love and care! That love and care consists of trying to make lifestyle modifications to enable prolonged longevity.
As we reach our elderly years, these modifications can be the difference between ending up on the ‘scrap heap’ of life or enjoying our ‘vintage’. One way for the elderly to achieve the latter is to partake in regular therapeutic massage.
Therapeutic massage – a significant positive impact
Multiple studies have shown that therapeutic massage can make a significant positive impact on multiple body domains, including physical, psychological, emotional and social, within elderly patients.
Link between massage and postural control
A US study published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork revealed improvements in balance and postural control after a 6 week trial of one hour weekly massages with a group of 35 people aged between 50-69 years of age. The study suggested that improvements in physical balance and posture may reduce the risk of falls in the elderly often the result of muscle imbalances, muscle atrophy and decreased range of movement.
The study showed a positive relationship between massage and improvements in the aforementioned points. Another potential benefit raised from the study was a lowering of blood pressure, which could have positive benefits on the reduction of cardio-vascular related diseases.
The study suggested that improvements in physical balance and posture may reduce the risk of falls in the elderly often the result of muscle imbalances, muscle atrophy and decreased range of movement.
Massage aid alzheimer patients
In addition, studies by the Touch Research Institute shows that massage facilitates communication and relaxation, and is therefore an effective therapy in the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients. The manipulation of specific points on the body has also been shown to promote the natural lubrication of joints, greatly assisting in the pain management of patients suffering from the stiffness of arthritis.
Massage and the recently retired
Other studies have also demonstrated the social and emotional benefits of regular therapeutic massage. With thousands of baby boomers now retiring every day, there is an increased focus on the social and emotional health of these people. Transitioning from working to retired life can be difficult for many, often resulting in anxiety and depression like symptoms.
Massage – a good non-pharmaceutical option
Massage has long been considered a good non-pharmaceutical option to manage such symptoms. In addition to this, regular massage can also be a great from a social perspective. Loneliness and a lack of communication in elderly patients can be overcome with regular interaction with a trusted massage therapist. While the message and benefit is a simple one, it is often forgotten in a busy world.
Knowing that someone cares about your wellbeing is important to your overall sense of place in the world because ultimately don’t we all want to be connected with others. A simple massage and the conversation it evokes may be enough to keep our elderly loved ones happy.
So, whether you are an elderly person who has ‘thrashed’ the car a bit much in its younger years, or you are the loving caregiver of an elderly relative, why not explore the benefits of therapeutic massage?