Occasional soreness is a common part of life after middle-age. But for older adults, aches and pains can last longer and appear in more places. On those days when other pain management techniques just aren’t working, a massage can be just what the doctor ordered – literally. You may be surprised to learn that massage is more than just a soothing indulgence. In fact, massage therapy offers an array of health benefits and is a wonderful way to maintain senior wellness.
Massage is great for stress relief, as it can help lower blood pressure, stabilize heart rate, and stimulate the release of endorphins. In turn, this helps reduce inflammation, a main culprit of many other physical ailments like arthritis and chronic pain. Serotonin and dopamine are other hormones that massage can help stimulate that can decrease irritability and improve mood.
An often-overlooked issue of aging is social isolation and loneliness. The loss of social connection often leads to serious physical and mental health implications. Massage increases the release of oxytocin, the hormone that produces the feelings of caring and connection. Research studies have shown that even just receiving ten minutes of hand massage can significantly lower feelings of depression and anxiety.
Maintaining wellness and an active lifestyle is another great benefit of massage. Muscle tension generally increases as we age which affects movement and balance. Massage can help soften muscles and increases blood flow for improved circulation. Improved blood flow to the limbs enables a wider range of motion for daily activities with less muscle tension and pain.
Older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can also reap the benefits of massage therapy for improved quality of life. One study showed how therapeutic touch helped alleviate agitated behavior, such as mumbling and pacing, in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, massage can enhance stroke recovery by increasing blood flow to affected areas which can help reduce paralysis. For those in residential care, studies have shown that residents who received massage on a regular basis slept better, needed less restraint and medication, and showed improved psychosocial health.
Thankfully, massage therapy is more accessible to older adults in this day and age thanks to technology. Apps like Zeel and Soothe allow you to book an appointment with a massage therapist who comes to you – perfect for those who may have difficulty traveling to a nearby spa. If you’d like to give massage therapy a try, we recommend talking to your doctor first to ensure that it will not aggravate any physical or circulatory issues you may have.