25 January 2022

The benefits of massages for older people

older man recieving hand massage

Massages can provide a host of great benefits, helping improve our bodies and our minds, including for older people with aches and pains or those with limited mobility. Whether you are struggling with movement, persistent pain, or are just feeling tense, a massage can truly work wonders. This guide presents some of the amazing benefits that older people and those with limited mobility can look forward to thanks to this helpful treatment. Hopefully, this will inspire a few more people to book themselves a massage and even more therapists to tailor to clients in older age.

Increased flexibility and range of movement

As we age, flexibility and the range of movement our bodies are capable of naturally decrease, not to mention due to any injuries or accidents that might occur. While choosing to install stairlifts can certainly help one navigate the house, massages can look to improve your range of movement and increase flexibility for a better quality of life.

Massage therapist Diana, from Bodyrock Therapy, shared with us her thoughts on how older people can benefit from massage, highlighting mobility issues: “In the older population, massage therapy has the ability to help with many of the symptoms we associate with ageing. Decreased mobility, joint inflammation and muscle pain linked with conditions such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis can be dramatically relieved by improving blood flow, reducing swelling and improving range of motion.”

A massage works to increase the pliability of the tissue around joints, heating up targeted areas, increasing elasticity and flexibility and therefore greatly contributing to a person’s mobility. So, whether you suffer from stiff joints, have muscle tension, or are recovering from a stroke, regular massage therapy can truly make a difference.

Improved balance

leg and hip massage

Another way in which massages can benefit us is by helping to improve our balance. Unfortunately, balance is something that doesn’t improve with age and can result in falls around the home and in public places. Balance and mobility deteriorate as we age because our muscles get weaker, but a massage can help stretch out these muscles, strengthen them, and encourage better functionality around the body. With massages also helping our joints and postural stability, those receiving expert massages can reap the benefits and feel more secure on their feet.

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Reduced stress and promote mental health

Stress is a common part of life but it’s important that we do not let it get the better of us. Whether you are dealing with stress due to a condition, illness, upcoming surgery or just the occurrences of daily life, massages can help reduce those stressful feelings and anxieties. How does this work? Well, massages can alter the release of hormones in the body and can therefore improve and regulate a person’s mood. A massage is able to stop the production of those harmful stress hormones and instead release the feel-good endorphins that can produce happy and positive emotions.  

The mental and psychological benefits of a massage cannot be overlooked, and this is something that masseuse Marie-Claire from The Movement Specialist made sure to stress when speaking with us: “Many older people are in pain, feel sad and depressed or are tired of being alone. A massage can provide a caring touch that may support feelings of being valued.

“Massages can increase the overall sense of well-being that can be invaluable to the client, while also decreasing fear, anxiety and the feelings of isolation. Studies show that social connections are a key element of good health for older people and isolation is very detrimental to health.”

Pain reduction

man getting massage

Living with pain for an extended period of time is something many have experienced. Not only is the pain itself uncomfortable but it can be demoralising mentally. Fortunately, massages are one way of helping to manage and reduce pain in the body. Massages are able to target muscular tension that causes pain, reducing the discomfort by applying deep pressure to the impacted areas. It also encourages fluids to move around the body, boosting the immune system, and helping to relieve pain from conditions like arthritis. While a massage won’t cure your arthritis, it can help reduce the pain and help you manage the condition. As a result, regular massages are a great tool to add to your care and wellbeing routine.

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Better circulation and healing

As we age, the circulation of blood in our bodies cannot perform to optimum levels. Bad circulation can lead to numbness, cold hands and feet, swelling, digestive issues, fatigue and joint pain. A massage can help with this, however, as it pushes blood around your body through the vessels, allowing new blood to flow through in the vacuum that has been created.

Better circulation in the body can also promote healing if you have had an injury or accident, as the website Physio describes: “An increase in blood circulation can encourage the exchange of nutrients and waste products between the blood and tissues to occur. The removal of waste products and the deliverance of nutrients are essential in tissue healing.”

What are the benefits of massages for older people?

  • Increased flexibility and range of movement
  • Improved balance
  • Reduced stress and promote mental health
  • Pain reduction
  • Better circulation and healing

Tips for massage therapists working with older clients

Marie-Claire from The Movement Specialist has shared some tips that will be helpful for those working with elderly massage clients. As Marie-Claire states: “There is a growing need for therapists who enjoy elderly massage clients, and a growing need from the elderly community for a compassionate, caring, healing touch.”

  • Ask your client to dress in clothes that are simple and easy to remove
  • You should also be comfortable working with a low table, as some older people might struggle with a high table
  • Talk to your client about their preferences of being massaged on the table (partially clothed vs. nude, side-to-side, and if needed, prone and supine)
  • Encourage them to be verbal about the amount of pressure they want or need
  • Discuss each step of the massage, especially if massage is new for them, so they are less nervous and can relax
  • Call them to remind them of their appointment the day before. If your client cannot hear well and if they have a hearing device, allow them to make the decision to take it off (or not) during the massage

As you can see, there are some real tangible benefits to having a massage, helping to keep our bodies working correctly and promoting independence in older age. If any of the issues described are impacting you, consider looking into massage therapy as a means to improve your quality of life and look after your body.

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