Massage for the elderly has been proved to be beneficial both physically and mentally. The benefits serve to improve the health and quality of life. Regular massage for senior citizens helps in management and prevention of certain age-related diseases without having detrimental side effects like pharmaceutical treatment. Low physical activity results in poor blood circulation. With massage, blood flow is enhanced thus leaving the patient feeling energized and healthier. The massage for the elderly is specially tailored to incorporate stretching to increase the patient's motion. At the same time, this procedure strengthens muscles and gets rid of tension. Mentally, senior citizens who undergo massage gain benefits such as relaxation which helps in getting quality sleep for more extended periods of time (Sansone & Schmitt, 2000).
One of the physical benefits of massage to the elderly is the improvement of body posture. This occurs because body joints get stronger during massage sessions and deep sleep favors the repair of worn out muscles. Massage is recommended for prevention of pain resulting from spinal stenosis, arthritis, and degenerative disc disorder. Scientists have been able to prove that the effects of aging are more prominent in people with little physical activity and low mental stimulation. For this reason, massage is valuable both physically and mentally. Massage on the chest improves respirational action due to in-depth breathing sessions. Working on the abdomen on the other hands aids the process of digestion.
Massage has also proved to have emotional benefits for the elderly. This is because they often feel lonely and isolated. Massage sessions allow for touch and conversations which encourage psychological awareness of the patient. For patients with dementia, it is common for them to feel less anxious after a massage therapy (Sansone & Schmitt, 2000).
There are guidelines for massaging the elderly which make it different from any ordinary massage. This exception is because the particular clients require special care and there is need to consider safety. The safest positions for the elderly are supine and when seated. Supine involves when the client is lying on the back facing upwards and the arms at rest by the sides of the body. Seated positions are recommended on a chair with backrest and preferably that preferred by the patient. The care provider must always ensure that positional changes made are minimal. The therapist should be the one who is flexible as opposed to forcing the patient to make several positional changes.
Home care massages are deemed best for the elderly to avoid inconvenience to the patient. Most patients prefer being in the comfort of their homes with the massage done on their favorite couch or bed. While designing a home care plan, there are specific considerations that need emphasis. The therapist must ensure reduced pressure on particular points and be gentle while stroking and kneading. The reduced pressure is recommended to account for the nature of clients skin as well as possible aging conditions. The plan should also ensure short sessions of around 30 minutes. The first five minutes should consist of gentle rocking and deep breathing training. After that, the focus should be put on certain parts such as the feet, shoulders, back, and neck. The final five minutes of the session should be for closure work. It is advised that once a caregiver finishes the massage process, the patient should remain resting for a while and avoid sudden body movements.
In conclusion, it is evident that massage for the elderly has physical, mental and emotional benefits. Some suggestions support the use of therapeutic massage for the management of age-related medical conditions. Massage for the elderly however requires special care and experience considering the clients in concern are fragile. This necessitates avoiding the prone position and reducing pressure while kneading and stroking.
Sansone, P., & Schmitt, L. (2000). Providing tender touch massage to elderly nursing home residents: a demonstration project. Geriatric Nursing, 21(6), 303-308.
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