The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork advocates massage for seniors as a treatment for management and prevention of age-related diseases and is a good alternative to pharmaceutical treatments.
With regular massage, quality of life is greatly increased, allowing older patients to feel younger, healthier and balanced.
Senior or geriatric massage typically involves gentle stroking, kneading, the application of light pressure on specific points and light stretching.
Stan Tralins, 86, of Naples, has been receiving massage therapy for 30 years. He says it is an integral part of his well-being.
Although Tralins was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis 15 years ago, he is still playing tennis and working out twice a week.
“When I was diagnosed, my doctor put me on Methotrexate to help with pain and inflammation. I had a bad reaction to it when I took it orally and in injection form,” Tralins said. “I started a holistic diet and a regimen of massage treatments and it helps to manage the discomfort and tightness. I get deeper work done with a lot of stretching.
“Massage also helps with the pinched nerve I get on my right side from driving and working on my computer.”
According to the National Academy For An Aging Society, almost half of the elderly deal with some form of arthritis.
Dawn Volpe, director of massage at the Bonita Springs School of Massage, Cosmetology and Barbering and LMT, says massage therapy plays important role in alleviating the pain and swelling caused by arthritis, improving flexibility and circulation and reducing stress and anxiety.
When working with someone with arthritis, she makes sure her pressure is not beyond their tolerance and works around the joints to increase circulation and to decrease pain. She can also incorporate stretching to increase flexibility.
Volpe’s senior clients cover a wide spectrum when it comes to their levels of physical activity. She stated many seniors are not as fragile as they think, and massage can help slow down the effects of aging on the muscular system.
She said another issue her senior clients deal with is fibromyalgia. She also sees a lot of people with knee replacements.
“Over time, in working on those with fibromyalgia, I have found there is a decrease in symptoms,” Volpe said.
Volpe encourages seniors who are taking medications to check with their practitioner before getting a massage to make sure it will not counter their medications.
“When I work with seniors my goal is not to change them but to help keep them be comfortable,” Volpe said.
She encourages seniors to look at massage as part of a healthy lifestyle and not as a luxury.
“You pay for your health one way or the other — you can maintain health through exercise and massage, or you can pay a higher price to get back to health,” Volpe said.
— Theresa George is a freelance beauty writer, certified medical electrologist, aesthetician and LMT. She has worked in the beauty industry for 16 years and owns Theresa’s Face and Body in Cape Coral. For more beauty and holistic information. Read her blog at theresasfaceandbody.com or contact her at email@example.com