Massage therapy for the elderly

Massage therapy is used to alleviate body pain and joint aches for elderly citizens. It systematically manipulates the different soft tissues of the body including the muscles, organs and tendons. Geriatric massage is specifically designed for senior citizens, involving tender, gentle strokes suitable for an aging body. Senior’s massage targets mainly the hands and legs, where majority of the pain is located, and requires very little movement from the elderly.

Geriatric massages include stimulating, loving movements such as rubbing, tapping, rolling, pressing, kneading and feather touch. The main purpose of a massage is to relax each and every part of the body, which in turn alleviates the pain. Massage therapy has several benefits, and no side effects. Massage significantly reduces anxiety and lowers stress-generating hormones. It can diminish stiffness of the body, and eliminate fatigue, depression and insomnia. Frequent massage can increase immunity, especially for HIV patients, and rid the body of toxic waste. Toxic substances, such as lactic and uric acid present within the muscles, are released and ejected from the body. Massage therapy increases blood circulation by warming up the body using repetitive strokes.

Massages sessions can last between thirty minutes to an hour, but may take longer for patients with physical disabilities. Massages can be targeted towards certain parts of the body as well, where disability or pain exists. The person undergoing a massage usually needs to lie down on a table or a mat, covered in a towel or clothes as per the treatment. Geriatric massages do not involve deep kneading, and are painless, relaxing and pleasurable. Moreover, since massages involve touching and gentle stroking, it doubles up as touch therapy, reducing patient depression and loneliness.

Massage sessions can increase vitality of the patient. A single massage session can dramatically reduce body pain; continuous treatment can even cure it. Frequent massages are also known to cure certain diseases such as arthritis, respiratory ailments such as emphysema and asthma, skin discoloration, tendonitis, joint inflammation, weakening of bones and muscular stiffness.

The following self-massage techniques can be performed at home, when instant relief is required:

  1. Hand massage – With the left thumb, press the lower end of your right palm, which is below the little finger. Press using small circular motions, and move around the whole palm in clockwise direction. After covering the palm, press the fleshy part of the fingers. Repeat by massaging the left hand. This is useful for tired or aching hands.
  2. Head massage – Using your ring finger or middle finger, press the temples on either side of the head, with each finger going upward and then backward. Place the thumb on the jaw for added support. Repeat with fingers just above the ears. This is especially useful for headaches.
  3. Foot massage – Sit on a study chair, and rest your left ankle on the right thigh. Use thumbs to press the sole of the foot, moving towards the top, using circular movements. Cover the entire area of the foot, and the fingers to give instant relief to aching feet. Repeat with the other foot.
  4. Back massage – Sit on a sturdy chair with firm back support. Place a massage or tennis ball in a sock and guide it to either side of the spine between your back and the chair. Pull the sock up or down, and press the back against the ball. Place the ball on the other side of the spine, for a quick inexpensive back rub.

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