More than Pampering. More than Relaxation. Therapeutic Massage as Medicine?

By / Posted on November 21st, 2013

Compassion. Empowerment. Well-Being. Comfort. Engagement. Those are some of the ideals that describe The Green House Project. These concepts also define what therapeutic massage can provide to aging adults.  It’s beautifully simple…therapeutic massage can enable older adults to extend the vitality and quality of their lives. At its core, massage gives the natural pleasure of a reassuring human touch, lowering the risk of anxiety and increasing feelings of comfort.

Massage can increase relaxation, improve circulation, relieve pain, accelerate healing from injury and illness, strengthen the immune system, and improve sleep quality.   In addition, when performed by appropriately trained and licensed massage therapists, it can provide symptomatic relief from many conditions that occur with age.

For example, the Arthritis Foundation reports that therapeutic massage can decrease joint and muscle soreness, reduce muscle pain and spasms, and improve grip strength.

Incorporating regular therapeutic massage into the treatment protocol for Parkinson’s Disease can have a positive cumulative effect on managing symptoms. In fact, the National Parkinson’s Foundation reports that massage can reduce rigidity and tremors, increase daily functioning and stamina, and increase feelings of relaxation.

How can you bring massage to your community?

Therapeutic massage for older adults is a growing niche industry. Increasing numbers of senior living community administrators are exploring ways to bring a therapeutic massage program to their residents. Increasing numbers of current and likely future senior living community residents are seeking this therapy.

Family and Nursing Care began offering therapeutic massage in 2011, as a complement to our home care services and to support our vision for wellness and whole-person care.  In one community we work with, interested residents sign-up each week for a short seated massage. On the day of the massage, the residents come to the massage area at their designated time.   In another community, management wants to show the health and wellness impact of the massage program. They asked for volunteers who wanted to receive a 30-minute massage session each week. Residents were selected on a first-come, first-served basis. Because we are working with the same residents each week and the massages are of a longer duration, this expanded program includes an initial intake, assessment and development of massage plan, goal setting, regular massage in accordance with the plan and goals, SOAP (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan) Notes, follow-up assessments, consultations with the medical team as needed, and submission of progress reports to management.

These are only two possible options. There are many variations on what a program could look like. First, identify the nature of your interest in a massage program. What value do you want to bring for your residents and for your community?

After you have identified the foundation for the program, there are many other factors to consider:

  • What outcome would you need to consider the program a success?
  • How many of your residents would be interested in participating in a massage program?
  • Would your residents’ level of interest be enhanced by education about the benefits of massage? If so, how can education be provided?
  • Is your medical team knowledgeable about the benefits of therapeutic massage? Would they be willing to refer residents for massage?
  • Will your community make an investment in the success of the program? In our experience, the program will be most successful and reach the largest numbers of residents when the community foots the bill.
  • Does your community have a private room that could be dedicated to massage or would the residents get a massage in their own rooms?
  • Would it be important to you to have massage therapists who are trained specifically to work with older adults? Who can give your residents the option of staying fully- or partially-dressed during the massage? Who can give your residents unable to get on a massage table the option of getting their massage in a hospital bed, their regular bed, or even a wheelchair or even their scooter?
  • How many hours per week or month would massage be available?

These are only a few of the questions to take into account. Consider partnering with an experienced organization to help ensure the success of your massage program.

 

About Family & Nursing Care

Since 1968, Family & Nursing Care has specialized in helping older adults get the most out of life. Whether it is a caregiver to help with activities of daily living, a nurse to assist with more skilled needs, or a licensed massage therapist to ease aches and pains or the symptoms of an illness, Family & Nursing Care meets each client’s individual needs. Service is provided in Maryland (Montgomery, Prince George’s, Howard and Frederick counties) and Washington, DC. Learn more at www.familynursingcare.com.