How does senior massage therapy differ from other types of massage?
Senior massage draws from many massage modalities: Swedish, acupressure, joint mobilization, and comfort touch, with techniques modified and adapted to each person’s unique health needs. No deep-tissue or sports massage with seniors. That can do more harm than good.
Usually seniors receive massage lying face-down or face-up — but not both.
Seniors experience benefits to a greater extent when they receive shorter massage treatments on a regular basis. I offer massage in seniors’ homes to enable deeper rest and relaxation.
What chronic medical conditions benefit most from senior massage?
So many conditions associated with aging benefit from senior massage:
- inflammation and stiffness in the joints
- asthma or breathing problems
- deteriorating muscle tone
- high blood pressure
Massage can dramatically improve blood circulation, lessen anxiety and stress and promote deeper, more restful sleep. Mental and physical energy levels can also benefit from massage.
Many seniors feel isolated. Everyone has a need for nurturing. By providing a caring touch, a massage can create a sense of reassurance and intimacy, especially for those who live alone and may be “touch-deprived.”
Any recent research findings that quantify the benefit of this wellness technique?
The Weaver’s Tale Retreat Center in Oregon conducted a 2-year study examining the effects of massage therapy for seniors. At least 50% of seniors tested showed reduction in rates of breathing, increase in range of motion, improvement of postures, and development of more body awareness. Their skin took on healthier colors. Their muscle tone was enhanced.
The same study also showed that 100% of the seniors who were tested showed a dramatic improvement in their moods and attitudes toward life in general.
What medical conditions might prevent someone from having a massage?
Certain heart conditions, some inflammatory conditions, osteoporosis, varicose veins, thrombosis, some skin conditions. Extreme caution must be taken if a person bruises easily or has thin, delicate skin. If a client has severe health issues, I get their doctor’s approval.
Is senior massage therapy suitable for people with cognitive impairment?
For many people with mild to moderate cognitive issues, it’s very beneficial.
For people with advanced cognitive impairment, massage could be intimidating or frightening. But in some cases, a person with advanced impairment responds positively to touch. It’s important for the therapist to be trained to work with people living with dementia.
I had a long-time client who became cognitively impaired. This condition progressed to the point where he no longer recognized me. Then he would become disoriented when I brought in my massage table. But his family felt it was important for him to continue receiving massage because he had enjoyed and benefited from it for such a long time. So we switched to using a chair in his living room. He remained clothed and I worked on his hands, feet, back, and shoulders using modified techniques.
How are your fees?
Senior massage fees are comparable to regular massage rates in Oakland. Massage should be affordable for seniors. My fees are sliding-scale, based on clients' needs and frequency of massage treatment sessions.
What should a new client expect?
First we decide if a doctor’s approval. When scheduling the first treatment, we make sure there is a quiet, warm room in the home where I can set up my massage table. Wheelchair-bound or bedridden clients receive massage treatments while seated or reclining in bed.
At a typical first visit I will ask about your needs and preferences, and determine which modalities to use, and the duration of the massage. During the massage, you can be clothed or semi-clothed depending on comfort level and type of massage.
Cait, why do you practice this type of massage therapy?
I’ve loved interacting with seniors for many years through my work in a non-profit senior service agency. By also practicing massage therapy for seniors, I feel gratified to contribute to a senior’s health and well-being in such a personal way. Helping people in this phase of life is something I hope to continue to offer for a long time.
Learn more about senior massage therapy: Visit Cait’s website