According to Statistics Canada, the aging of our population has led to seniors over the age of 65 outnumbering children in Canada, accounting for 18.0% of the population. This growing trend of senior populations is key when considering health care implications, long-term care facilities, and support services for those with dementia and their caregivers.
As the population ages, the importance of personal health and wellness is also on the rise. In fact, many older adults (over the age of 50) are becoming more and more physically active and participating in memory-enhancing or cognitive activities, such as technology-based brain games or puzzles like sudoku or crosswords.
As seniors begin to engage in activities such as yoga, tai chi, and strength training, they are improving their quality of life and overall health and wellness. Massage Therapy Canada states that this has created a new clientele for therapists and caregivers alike – stronger, more active, elders, as well as older elders.
However, there is a population of aging adults that struggle with mobility, cognitive decline, high risk of injury, or surgeries. When this is the case, therapies, such as massage, chiropractic, and physical therapy must accommodate the changing population and functionalities of seniors. One such accommodation that is trending is the introduction of Geriatric Massage.
What is Geriatric Massage?
Geriatric massage is a set of techniques geared toward a person of advanced age. It involves specialized movements, strokes and techniques designed for aging skin and muscles.
Benefits of Geriatric Massage
There are a variety of benefits of this type of massage for the elderly – from the emotional to the physical benefits.
As seniors, especially those in long-term care residences, are becoming more socially isolated and missing the benefits of gentle touch from family members and other loved ones. This has a significant impact on the emotional and psychological well-being of the individual and can lead to depression, further isolation, and cognitive decline. Geriatric massage from a qualified therapist can fulfill this need for elderly loved ones with the touch a massage provides.
Physical benefits range from improved mental outlook, relief from arthritis and other chronic pain, increased blood circulation, and better sleep. Other benefits include:
Restored range of motion and flexibility
Reduced anxiety, tension and stress
Relief from depression
Enhanced immune function.
There are growing studies of the benefits that the touch of massage has for those living in long-term care facilities, such as enhancing their health and well-being, a more positive and relaxed feeling, and a reduction of anxiety, stress and aggressive behaviour in a clinical study of those with dementia.
Of course, care must be taken when considering the use of massage techniques for the elderly. Considerations such as age, health conditions, pain threshold, and comfort level especially as some massage techniques may be viewed by the older population as too “personal”. Overall, the sensation of touch, whether as a hug, a back rub, or gentle massage of hands and feet is beneficial to many seniors and can greatly improve mood and a sense of belonging.
Servicing the Ottawa Community since 1998.
We are now accepting clients in Smith Falls, Kemptville, Prescott, Brockville, through to Kingston, Ontario.