Geriatric massage is a form of therapy designed to meet the specific needs of the elderly. As we get older, massage can help to manage the many physical and mental challenges that arise. People who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, depression and other age-specific conditions can have chronic pain, poor circulation and limited physical activity. Geriatric massage at Austin Massage Clinic addresses these conditions. Our specific approach to geriatric or elder massage can help our oldest clients maintain and improve overall health and regain the physical function that may have been lost due to aging.
Geriatric massage encompasses basic relaxation and stress relief and is also a beneficial tool in fighting many of the symptoms of aging. Today, massage in all its forms is at the forefront of therapies utilized by millions of people.
“Geriatric massage is NOT a generic term for massaging the elderly (to make them feel a little better). The FOCUS is on helping a weakened body to maintain or sometimes even regain those functions that are essential for general well-being at any age.” – Dietrich Miesler / Daybreak Geriatric Massage Institute
Geriatric massage therapists are sensitive to health issues commonly experienced by elderly clients, and are trained to determine when standard massage practices are appropriate and when modified techniques would be more effective, such as the special routines which have been developed to maximize treatment for bed- and wheelchair-bound clients. They are aware of certain medication restrictions and are competent in servicing clients with commonly encountered ailments such as ALS, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, Parkinson’s, implants, and joint replacements.
Geriatric Massage Characteristics
Geriatric massage uses many of the same basic massage techniques as general massage. However, it is tailored to the specific health conditions and needs of a client. In general, geriatric massage has the following characteristics:
A geriatric massage session usually lasts no longer than 30 minutes, but can be schedule for longer if the patient and licensed massage therapist feel that it is advisable.
Use of Gentle Hand Motions
Gentle hand motions are comfortable and soothing to the body. They are designed to improve blood circulation and heart function, prevent diabetic complications, relieve muscle tension and relax the body and mind.
Passive Movement and Gentle Stretching
Passive movement and gentle stretching of the shoulders, legs and feet can improve joint mobility and flexibility in the elderly.
Massaging of the Hands and Feet
Gentle massaging of the hands and feet can help prevent stiffness and relieve pain.
Friction and Pressure Strokes
Occasional use of stronger movements, such as friction and pressure strokes, can be used to improve the flexibility of specific areas (e.g., shoulders, neck).
Geriatric Massage Benefits
- Improved sleep quality
- Headache relief
- Improved quality of life
- Increased range of motion for stiff joints
- Injury prevention (increased flexibility and stability can help prevent falls)
- Reduction of muscle adhesions (i.e., knots)
- Pain relief
- Relief of anxiety, depression and loneliness
- Improved blood circulation (can help prevent complications of diabetes like leg ulcers and gangrene)
- Improved lymph circulation
Geriatric Massage Therapy
Geriatric massage therapists typically offer a full range of standard massage services for clients of all ages as well as specialized services for the elderly. Geriatric clients receive standard or modified massage treatments as appropriate and have the option of requesting a “Geriatric massage” which is a modified full-body massage of shorter duration (30 minutes instead of 60 minutes). The shorter duration geriatric massage is less taxing on the client and is more affordable. Many clients prefer two shorter sessions within a given time frame rather than a single longer session during the same period.
Statistics show that 10,000 people join the ranks of the 65 year old every day (this includes the baby boomers who wish to maintain their active lifestyles), and also show that several thousand new massage therapists are graduating from the nation’s massage schools every year without any special training for senior massage, elderly massage, geriatric physical therapy or geriatric massage therapy.
Geriatric Massage and the Demographics of Aging
Thirty five million Americans are over 65
In 1900, the average American lived to be 46
In 2000, the average American lived to be 76
By 2020, one in five Americans will be over 60
By 2025, Americans over 65 will outnumber teenagers by more than two to one
The “old old” (over 75 years) is the fastest-growing subset of our aging population