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Senior Massage: 7 Benefits of Massage for Older Adults

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Published: 16th May, 2023

Along with the wisdom that comes with older age, seniors experience a range of bodily changes that can benefit from regular massage therapy. Numerous studies show the advantages of senior massage are plentiful, ranging from relief from chronic lower back pain to improved psychological symptoms in patients with dementia. However, despite its many benefits, researchers have found that increasing age is associated with lower use of integrative approaches like massage. This may be due to having low access to massage services, which can be corrected with the use of an in-home massage chair or massage bed.  

Read on to find out the top seven benefits of senior massage and how in-home massage tools can be especially helpful for older adults.

1. Increased Mobility

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in older adults, characterized by pain, swelling, and stiffness due to the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. According to research from Duke University, weekly, full-body massage sessions can significantly improve joint mobility and alleviate pain in individuals who have this degenerative disease. By compressing the soft tissues to increase blood flow, massage safely and effectively reduces tightness and helps with fluid mobility.

But you don’t have to have arthritis to benefit from senior or geriatric massage. As people age, muscles and joints tend to become stiffer, resulting in poor flexibility and range of motion. Massage therapy can help seniors maintain mobility by easing muscle tension and improving circulation, which is crucial to reducing the risk of falls and injuries.

2. Pain Relief

In addition to reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis, massage has also been shown to provide pain relief for spinal problems, muscle pain, osteoporosis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Massage can also be especially helpful for older adults who are unable to exercise as stiffness and tension will be even more pronounced. Some experts also suggest using massage as a way to prevent or relieve pain associated with pressure sores, commonly known as bed sores. But it’s recommended to massage around the sores instead of applying direct pressure to prevent further injury.

3. Better Circulation

Seniors with limited movement and activity are at risk for developing poor circulation, which is linked to cognitive issues, fatigue, varicose veins, and even cardiovascular issues like blood clots and stroke. Research has shown that massage has many physiological effects that can improve circulation, including increased vasodilation and capillarization as well as improved venous return. While massage should never be used in lieu of medical treatment for those with underlying conditions, adding massage to one’s self-care routine can be highly beneficial if approved by your healthcare provider.

4. Improved Mood

By reducing the stress hormone cortisol and increasing levels of “happy” neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, massage has been shown to improve mood by easing symptoms of anxiety and depression. These effects can be helpful for any senior, but especially those dealing with dementia. In a study on massage in patients with dementia, researchers found that physical expressions of agitation such as pacing, wandering, and resisting were decreased when slow-stroke massage was applied. Adding aromatherapy to your massage may also maximize its benefits. There is some evidence that aromatherapy may be effective in helping people with dementia to relax, and that certain oils may even have the potential to improve cognition in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

5. Better Sleep

Many seniors find that they have a harder time falling and staying asleep. Yet, seniors who receive weekly massages report that they sleep more deeply and for longer lengths of time, resulting in an overall feeling of better health. There may be even more marked improvement in those who integrate acupressure into their massage therapy. Research has found that acupressure massage significantly reduces nocturnal awakenings and night wakeful time in elderly patients.

6. Stronger Immunity

While it’s inaccurate that seniors are immunodeficient, studies indicate one of the most recognized consequences of aging is a decline in immune function. There is evidence that massage therapy boosts immune function by increasing the number of lymphocytes in the body, which are white blood cells that help fight off disease and infection. Massage also inadvertently strengthens immunity by decreasing the stress hormone cortisol, which weakens immunity when there is too much of it in the system.

7. Quicker Healing from Injuries

Elderly individuals have a slower healing process from wounds and injuries, but there’s evidence that getting a massage can help facilitate this process. This study of 78 seniors found that massage helped to alleviate exercise-induced muscle damage by easing muscle pain, improving muscle strength, reducing balance impairments, and even decreasing the fear of falling in the days after exercise. The improved circulation from massage can also make seniors less prone to injury by keeping muscles, connective tissues, and joints more fluid.

How Massage Chairs and Massage Beds Can Help at Home

If seniors do not have easy access to massage therapy or are homebound, investing in a massage chair or massage bed can take the guesswork out of how or where to get a massage. Cleared as an FDA Class II medical device, the CERAGEM V6 combines acupressure, deep-tissue massage, stretching, and hot stone therapy for pain relief, improved flexibility, and increased circulation. 

The CERAGEM V6 is equipped with sophisticated spinal scanning technology that adjusts to the user’s unique spinal curvature to deliver a customized massage experience just as you would expect in a high-end spa. The massage bed also features compression boots to improve circulation with the technology of air cell massagers.

Learn more about the CERAGEM V6 and CERAGEM V4 massage beds today.

Erica Garza is an author and essayist specializing in health and wellness. She has written for TIME, Health, Glamour, Parents, Women’s Health, VICE, and the Telegraph.

Sources

National Library of Medicine – Case Study: The Use of Massage Therapy to Relieve Chronic Low-Back Pain

American Massage Therapy Association – Massage Therapy for Seniors

National Library of Medicine – Use of Complementary Health Approaches for Chronic Low-Back Pain: A Pain Research Registry-Based Study

Healthline – Here’s Why You Should Add a Weekly Massage to Your Existing Arthritis Treatment

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals – Can Massage Alleviate Bed Sores?

Science Daily – Massage therapy improves circulation, alleviates muscle soreness

American Massage Therapy Association – Massage for Seniors: What the Research Says

Alzheimer’s Society – Aromatherapy, massage and dementia

American Senior Communities – The Therapeutic Benefits of Massage for Seniors

National Library of Medicine – The effectiveness of acupressure in improving the quality of sleep of institutionalized residents

National Library of Medicine – Causes, consequences, and reversal of immune system aging

National Library of Medicine – Massage enhances recovery following exercise-induced muscle damage in older adults

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