Geriatric Massage | Toronto, Canada

Frequently Asked Question about Geriatric Massage

What is a Geriatric massage?

Geriatric Massage is a gentle application of specialized massage techniques for the elderly population. The elderly population of age 65 years, and older require special care when it comes to applying force on their soft tissue. Soft tissue includes muscles, joints, ligaments, fat, nerves, blood vessels, tendons, etc.  The practice of geriatric massage requires an extensive evaluation of an older person’s health conditions, physical capability, and emotional state to provide an appropriate message.

There is a huge diversity of the elderly populations itself. From early “young”  retirees who can manage to upkeep their active lifestyle including marathons, cliff jumping, to those who are suffering from chronic conditions and may be bedridden. The clinician or therapist must pay special attention to medical history, and the result of an older person’s physical and emotional assessment.

The therapist must consider a range of symptoms and signs like chronic pain, heart conditions, aging skin, bone density,  spine alignment, sleeping pattern, to dietary problems -Diet can significantly affect the frailty of skin, energy, and mood significantly.  

Unlike another age group, there is a higher level of care that is required from the massage therapist. Specific massage training and assessment are required to successfully perform the geriatric massage.

Skilled and caring touch can have a positive effect on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional state.

Benefits of Geriatric Massage

Geriatric massage is therapeutic, improves mood, and induces relaxation when performed in accommodation to the client’s health conditions, physical capabilities, mobility, and emotional state.

The “Hands-on: technique has been adopted since the dawn of time to heal, and treat patients around the world; from ancient Chinese, Egyptians, Japanese, Arabic medical literature* Accommodate significantly improve mood. Aging comes with its own set of physical down

Benefits of geriatric massage include:

  • Ease discomfort, soreness, and tight muscles
  • Induce relaxation, and promote sleep
  • Mood Improvement via endorphin release, natural hormones that reduce pain
  • Increase mobility, and range of motion

Touch Research Institute (TRI) found a reduction in pain, enhanced immune functioning, activation of muscle, alertness, and performance after conducting 90 studies on the effects of geriatric massage therapy.

Brain Function and form is compromised as we age. Massage therapy is known to have effectiveness as a therapeutic treatment to individuals with mental conditions, and degenerative conditions. For instance, the study by University of Texas (Rowe et al, 1999) found that geriatric massage techniques helped lower the instances of pacing, wandering, and resistant behavior from patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

A separate study with elderly suffering from dementia became less anxious following touch treatment along with verbalization (Kim et al, 1999).

How to Massage an Elderly Person?

Special Training is required to work with older persons. Unlike any other age group, you must adopt special precautions before proper assessment. Aging is part of life, and every one of us experience this vital process differently, so it is important for you to empathize and conduct a proper evaluation before beginning. The massage therapist must also keep in mind that he/she must be considerate of the positioning. 

Each person is unique and experiences touch therapy differently. In the same way, our mind reacts to stimulants differently. There are a variety of parameters to consider, starting with a medical history, mood, and current physical state. Once you have a thorough idea of their state, consider the variety of different techniques including:

  • Holding: place hands mindfully on a specific surface of the body
  • Petrissage: Light kneading of muscles
  • Rocking: Gentle back and forth movement
  • Effleurage: Gliding soothing stroke
  • Fluffing: without squeezing, light movement of fingers on the muscles

Benefits of Hand and Foot Massage for the Elderly

Touch is one of our vital senses to experience the world, people and things around us. Hand, foot, or both are stimulated while performing geriatric massage on an older person. Hand massages can create an immediate stimulation, and improve range of motion around a wrist, and fingertip sensation. It can be used to enhance circulation on both ends of our limbs.Hand and foot massage for the elderly can instantly improve their reflex. Most adults experience stress, tension, anxiety, and loneliness. There are higher chances of the elderly experiencing detachment, anxiety, and loneliness, and geriatric therapy from skilled clinicians can have a therapeutic effect, as simple as improving their quality of life and well-being.  

Online Geriatric Massage Certification and Specialized Education

Experienced Geriatric Massage therapists will tell you that it takes more than massage therapy certification to get into this field. Before you dive into specialized massage for older persons, students should consider understanding their own comfort level working with the elderly population.

As mentioned earlier, there are “young” retirees on one end, and bedridden patients, sometimes suffering from chronic and degenerative conditions on the other end.

Prepare yourself by defining who you want to service. The elderly population is the vulnerable group, but like any other age group, circumstances are equally unique within and each client needs to be individually assessed. To become a professional, you must understand the physiology of your client, make appropriate calls based on extensive evaluation of your patient, and apply techniques that enhance their quality of life and well being. A

You can find several certifications online for geriatric massage, but we suggest looking into the following groups and resources:

  1. Canadian Company, BC Eldercare Massage provides courses and certification: Link here
  2. National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Aging (NIA): Link here
  3. Centre for Disease Control (CDC), National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion: Link here
  4. NIH Center or Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCAM): Link here
  5. Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Older Adults: Click here for E-book