While massage therapy can be performed on people of all ages, methods and techniques may differ somewhat as the recipient gets old. In fact, a kind of therapy called “geriatric massage” was developed specifically to address the needs of older adults. As such, this type of massage therapy offers some benefits not necessarily felt in a regular massage.
For instance, geriatric massage can be performed on the elderly who suffer osteoarthritis, a condition with symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness. Treating older adults to a regular massage keeps the stiffness and pain down as therapy helps lubricate the joints.
Geriatric massage is also recommended for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Because massage for the elderly is gentler than typical methods, it’s seen as an effective way of communicating with and relieving those suffering from the said conditions. Caregivers for the elderly are often trained to give soft and gentle hand massages to when their are patients agitated or upset.
Yet even seniors without the said conditions may benefit from regular massage therapy sessions. The application of pressure and stretching involved in massage can help most elderly people improve their motion capabilities, muscle tone, body awareness, circulation, sensation and posture. Geriatric massage therapy also has positive emotional effects on depressed seniors as regular sessions allow them the pleasure of human company.
Generally, geriatric massage has many similarities with regular massage but massage therapists are expected to be gentler and more patient as the elderly body needs more care, and older adults aren’t as mobile as younger individuals. Sympathy and thoughtfulness are also great attributes to have as lonely seniors may respond positively to these.