MASSAGE FOR ELDERS
Ilyse Streim, massage therapist, Center for Integrative Medicine
Excerpts from “Care 101: Massage for Frail, Older Adults” by Mary Ann Konarzewski
“Massage can bring joy to someone who is feeling lonely and sad, a sense of
connection to someone who feels isolated, and peace to those who are agitated or
restless. It can revitalize and renew, bring comfort, soothe, and console. It can be a
salve for the soul.
The Benefits of Massage for Frail Elders
Massage has the potential to:
• Ease pain and anxiety
• Encourage overall well-being
• Help with stiff joints and sore muscles
• Improve flexibility
• Relieve constipation
• Help alleviate symptoms of depression and loneliness
• Provide connection in their lives
• Lessen the use of pain medications
• Help prevent bedsores caused by sitting or lying in one position for an extended
I’ve been seeing 90-year-old “Leah” for the last four years. She is frail, has
Parkinson’s, and has dealt with depression and anxiety her whole life. She can be
gruff, irritable, and hard to please. At the suggestion of her psychotherapist, Leah had
her first massage at 86. Her daughter, the primary caregiver, was extremely doubtful.
She was frustrated and had given up on trying anything new, because nothing seemed
to help her mother. But Leah’s therapist had an intuitive hunch that massage might work. And it did; it was life-changing.
Leah suddenly began smiling, her face softened, her anxiety eased. Though her
depression has never gone away entirely, massage helped lift it. A little window of joy
and light suddenly opened and passed through her during and shortly after the
massage sessions. She even began greeting her neighbors, something she had not
done before. I love to see her smile and hear her tell me how much more at peace she
feels, and how the massage seems to be the only thing to really help her with her
anxiety. Through the change is not permanent, it is a positive change in the right
direction, even if for a short while.”
I love massaging my elder clients at Good Samaritan’s Center for Integrative Medicine.
As Ms. Konarzewski shares in her story above, I can see in my clients faces the ease
and relief massage brings to their stiff muscles and joints, sore feet, and arthritic joints.
Their entire countenance is lighter and brighter as they leave the session with a smile
on their soft, relaxed faces.
If you or someone you know are an older adult, come and enjoy the many benefits of
massage. Massage can always be adapted to be lighter or shorter, with special
attention paid to making sure positioning on the table is comfortable with extra pillows
or warm blankets.
Here at Good Samaritan’s Center for Integrative Medicine, our Integrative staff offers
these wonderful services:
Massage and Oncology Massage
Manual Lymph Drainage
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction