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Massage for the Aging Person by Jen Servidio

We are at a unique time in history when the majority of the world’s population is 65 years of age and older. In America, that means the members of this older generation are living healthier, more active lives, have more income and more opportunities for good health care. They are focused on maintaining their active lifestyle and many choose modalities such as massage in order to do so. Some reasons they are choosing massage are to increase mobility, reduce stress, improve their overall feeling of wellbeing and to relieve chronic pain or discomfort.

But what about the older client who isn’t leading this healthier, more active lifestyle?

For the client who may be dealing with a debilitating illness or has cognitive or mobility issues, massage may be of even greater help. As we age, we tend to be touched less and less, especially if we are ailing. To provide the gift of touch, unconditionally, from one person to another, is an essential way to communicate that transcends boundaries. The non-profit group, Tender Touch for All, is a great believer in the power of touch and has been bringing massage to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients in Rockland County. The focus of these sessions is to reduce swelling in the extremities and to provide relaxation with a shoulder and back massage and gentle stretching or a massage to the legs to help reduce cramping and atrophy.

Choosing the Right Type of Massage

If you or someone you know is older and considering massage for the first time, it is helpful to have a goal in mind for the first session. While it may be as simple as to relax or to provide some relief for a chronic pain issue, it allows the massage therapist to formulate the optimal treatment plan. There are many types of massage but not all are appropriate for an older client. Slower, lighter movements tend to be more appropriate as the skin tends to change and become more fragile as we age. It is important to keep in mind that massage can be a very emotional and intimate experience. Having a therapist who is willing to listen to and communicate with the client about any concerns is a vital part of the equation.

There are so many benefits to massage at any age, including improved digestion, enhanced immune system response, ease in breathing, lowered anxiety and nervousness, increased movement, reduces inflammation and provides an unconditional and nurturing touch. It is easy to see why so many people already have made massage part of their lives.

Jen Servidio is the owner of Feel Better Bodyworks, located at 217 Rt. 303 S, Valley Cottage. For more information, contact 721-9643 or or visit

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