No, we’re not talking about seniors in high school or college (although they could probably benefit from a massage, too), we’re talking about the grandma and grandpa variety. People 65 and older represent a growing population. According to the most recent U.S. census data, about 14 percent of the U.S. population are seniors.
The healthcare community continues to focus much of its attention on caring for seniors, keeping them healthy and managing long-term chronic disease and illness. While new treatments and medications are certainly part of the picture, sometimes alternative therapies such as massage therapy tend to be overlooked.
Massage therapy can provide both physical and mental relief for a number of common issues facing seniors today.
- Parkinson’s: Massage can help calm the nervous system and ease tremors and shaking.
- Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The personal connection between a therapist and patient can provide a sense of physical and emotional comfort.
- Arthritis and Osteoporosis: Heating up the muscles with massage can help increase range of motion and improve mobility and functionality for the client.
- Cancer: Gentle touch can provide a great sense of relief to someone struggling with a potentially terminal illness such as cancer.
What Does this Mean for Massage Therapists?
As a massage therapist, it is important not to forget about this important population and to learn more about their specific needs, just as you would any other population that often requires massage – think about athletes, expecting mothers, those who sit at a desk all day or have labor intensive jobs.
The most important skill is the ability to tune into a person’s needs. Are they still active, but in pain? Do they long for human connection? Do they show signs of poor circulation or an overactive nervous system?
There are also specific techniques that are commonly used with those 65 and older. For example, kneading and the application of light pressure on specific points is advised. Most therapists also incorporate stretching into massage for seniors.
Becoming a Massage Therapist
- Conferring with clients about problems with stress, pain and their medical history.
- Developing and proposing client treatment plans.
- Massaging the muscles and soft tissues to treat medical conditions, injuries or to maintain overall wellness.
- Maintaining records of prognosis, treatment, response and progress.
- Instructing clients about techniques for postural improvement, stretching, relaxation and rehabilitative exercise.
As a massage therapist, you’ll get the opportunity to help people from all age groups and walks of life. Knowing how to address the needs of each population will help prepare you for your career.
 For comprehensive consumer information, visit carrington.edu/cc/mt