Massage Therapy and the Elderly

Massage Therapy for the ElderlyBy Courtney Slivka

When most people think about massage therapy, they picture the relaxing oasis of a spa. Though it is becoming increasingly popular as a therapeutic practice, some still view it as a luxury meant for those with extra time and money.

However many nursing homes, hospitals, and doctors are recommending that the elderly get regular massages. Not only does it help to enhance their overall physical health, but it can also assist them emotionally in going through life changes as they enter the most mature stage of their lives.

Working with the elderly presents new challenges but also many rewards. Therapists must be careful to use less pressure so as to not injure their clients. It is important to remember that you are most likely working with a more sensitive individual.

Often times, a very light effleurage is the most that one can do in a massage session with an elderly client. Sometimes this means that the therapist must exercise their creativity in order to keep the session from feeling monotonous for both the client and therapist.

It is also important to remember that many people lose mobility as they age. Be sensitive to your client’s abilities, especially when getting on and off of the table.

Also take care to keep your client comfortable throughout the session, which may mean extra pillows or bolsters to support the joints. More mature skin may be more sensitive than that of younger clients, so take that into consideration when choosing an oil or lotion for the session.

While all clients need to fill out an intake form, informing the therapist of any medical conditions, this is oftentimes more significant with elderly clients. It is best to receive the approval of one’s doctor before beginning any sort of therapeutic routine.

It will be most ideal for you and your client if you stay in contact with their doctor, especially if they are receiving medical attention for any conditions. Geriatric massage is part of many massage schools’ curriculum

but in order to work with the elderly, consider enrolling in classes beyond your primary massage school. There are many benefits to working with the elderly population, but there are many different things to learn and take into consideration before embarking on such a path.

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