This Monday was National Senior Citizens Day, and unless you’ve been living under a massage table for the last decade, you know that this day applies to a rapidly-growing segment of our population. In fact, senior citizens continue to be the fastest-growing age set, and will account for a fifth of our population by 2020. This population shift is causing health care practices of all kinds to work to ensure that they are equipped to care for this influx of senior citizens.
Although we’ve discussed before how vitally important massage is for everyone, you might not realize just how beneficial massage can be for the most aged among us.
- Massage can help ease joint stiffness by loosening and lengthening the tendons and muscles connected to the joint. It can also help alleviate pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, there are two types of massage that have been proven in studies to ease RA pain: myofascial release (this involves longer, sustained pressure on certain areas of the body to break up any tightened connective tissue), and moderate pressure massage.
- Have you ever noticed that many senior citizens tend to heal more slowly, and take longer to recover from a pulled or strained muscle? This is because cells as we age become more compromised and less able to aid in healing, and because of elevated levels of inflammation that is common in seniors. Massage can help speed healing by inhibiting inflammation and promoting production of mitochondria, which helps muscles recover.
- Last year the Center for Disease Control estimated that nearly 7 million Americans over the age of 65 experience depression. Of course, mental health issues should always be brought to the attention of a doctor. And as a supplement to mental health treatment, massage can be a helpful and effective piece of a depression treatment program. Massage can increase the levels of “feel good” hormones in the body, leading to increased feelings of wellbeing. Also, the physical touch component of massage can bring peace and promote comfort.
- Did you know that massage can reduce agitation levels in those with Alzheimer’s? Studies conducted in 1995 and in 2008 on patients with Alzheimer’s found that levels of pacing, resisting, and wandering were decreased both immediately after back or hand massage, as well as an hour later.
- Get better sleep. For a variety of reasons, senior citizens seem to suffer from poorer sleep overall. Massage can be effective at improving the quality of sleep by increasing serotonin, which in turn increases melatonin, which helps regulate sleep cycles.
Chances are that you know a senior, or are a senior, who could benefit from receiving massages on a regular basis. If you have specific concerns about the techniques and methods utilized for senior citizens, give us a call. We’ll be happy to discuss providing wellness to the most aged, and deserving, segment of our population.