Background: The Growing Senior Population
Nancy M. Porambo, President of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) noted that, “while integrating massage therapy into a health and wellness plan is useful for all ages, it holds particular value in the growing elder population.” The population of “elderly” individuals is growing as the baby boomer generation continues to transition into retirement.
- The population of U.S. citizens older than 65 is projected to increase from roughly 13% of the population to almost 20% of the population by 2030, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
- There is projected to be roughly 28 million Americans age 80 or above by 2040, which would more than triple the current population in that age bracket.
- The 18th Annual American Massage Therapy Association Consumer Survey from July 2014 found that 9 million people over the age of 55 received roughly 39 million massages in the past year.
Benefits of Geriatric Massage
Broadly, the following are some of the most common benefits to geriatric massage:
- Improvement of the patient’s quality of life and self-esteem
- Improvement in length and quality of sleep
- Relief of stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness
- Alleviation of headaches and pain
- Decrease in time required to heal injury and illness
- Partial restoration of mobility lost due to Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, and other mobility-limiting conditions
- Mental and physical relaxation
- Improvement in lymphatic flow, which increases the excretion of toxic substances from the body
What is Geriatric Massage?
Geriatric massage is a form of massage tailored specifically to the needs and ailments of the senior population. Geriatric massage focuses on manipulation of the soft tissues of the body and passive movement of joints to improve blood circulation, increase motion, and reduce pain.
Geriatric massage has the following common characteristics:
- Short sessions: Usually lasting no longer than 30 minutes. Longer sessions could irritate or cause harm to seniors depending on their physical conditions
- Gentle massage motions: This type of motion is designed to improve blood circulation, relieve muscle tension, and relax the body and the mind
- Focus on hands and feet: Assuming the joints are not inflamed, geriatric massage focuses significant effort on the hands and feet to relieve pain and improve motion
- Occasional strong movements: Friction and pressure strokes are used at times to massage areas such as the shoulders to improve flexibility