As We Age, Our Body Starts To Slow Down
“I could run the same distance in half your time!” my grandpa used to always tell me. I could never tell if it was actually true or simply meant to motivate me to do better. I guess i’ll never know. But one thing I do know, as does my grandpa and probably yours too is that:
Time changes everything. The body that we accumulated starting from infancy at birth begins to mature into a hormone raging adolescent, before slowly transforming into an adult responsible enough to bear kids of his/her own. The final transformation happens when you become a senior. At that point, for most of us the body performs much slower than it did when we were young adults.
The digestive system isn’t as effective as it once was, it becomes hard to sleep, metabolism slows down, and healing from an ailment takes far longer.
But there is good news. There are certain things you can do to help you feel better as you age. Diet and exercise are 2 very important elements for sure, but did you know massage therapy has all sorts of awesome benefits for seniors? Here are 5!
#1 Improved Mental Health
This isn’t just a massage benefit that seniors experience.
Anxiety and stress levels are low, and both the mind and body are in a state of relaxation. If you look at the science behind it, everything adds up!
Dopamine, often referred to as the feel good chemical is released during massage (source: thedoctorweighsin). Serotonin and oxytocin are also released in small amounts. Dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin are neurotransmitters or neurohormones that are responsible for making us feel good. Many call them the “happy hormones” for this reason!
For seniors specifically, this can be a massive advantage as most elderly are at a greater risk of depression. This alone is a huge reason to massage!
#2 Improved Sleep
Massage therapy can help improve sleep quality for seniors.
If you’re as sleep deprived as I am, you probably have a couple bottles neatly stashed in your medicine cabinet. Melatonin is a hormone that’s widely used to treat sleep disorders in both adults and children (source: Wikipedia). It’s readily available as an “off the counter” supplement/medication.
I’ve used it quite often and I have to say it does work well for me. Upon dissolving a tablet of melatonin, I find I not only get to sleep faster, but my sleep is also deeper and less interrupted.
Earlier in #1 we talked about how the act of massage releases the hormones dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. Interestingly enough, the precursor to melatonin is serotonin i.e. in other words, serotonin is needed to manufacture melatonin in the body (source: Vivo Pathophysiology). Increased synthesis of melatonin could lead to improved sleep quality as previously discussed.
This kinda explains why we all tend to have a good-nights rest after a massage session. Again, improved sleep is something we all benefit from as a result of massage, but it’s much more important to the elderly, especially those who suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome.
#3 Alleviation Of Pain
My grandma god rest here soul, suffered incredibly from arthritis. What started out as an annoying pain in the knees, hands, and feet, quickly turned into a pain so severe, it would debilitate her movement. In only a few years time, she lost her mobility and had to use a wheelchair. Not to mention, the pain progressively got worse.
It’s a sad story and one that probably affects thousands if not millions of seniors each year. But it need not be this way!
If treated early, massage can not only provide pain relief, but also potentially help with arthritis. There have been numerous accounts of how regular massage can help significantly reduce pain in arthritis sufferers.
One such account is an experimental study carried out in 2006 by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The study involved 68 people who suffered from knee osteoarthritis. Each were given just 2 massages in a week, for a total of 8 weeks. These individuals when compared to the control group (i.e. the group who received no massage), showed increased range of motion, less stiffness, better function, and reduced overall pain (source: National Center For Biotechnology Information (NCBI)).
Mind you, this is just one study/example. There have been countless stories people have shared in which massage has completely changed their life!
It’s about time we change our mindset and culture from always reaching for a pill when something is wrong!
#4 Improved Circulation
As my grandma’s arthritis got worse, I always remember the doctor saying “you’ve gotta keep mobile, even if that means small stretches and walks every day!” The problem of course is the pain. How can you begin to even think of exercise and stretching when the pain never goes away.
And alas most become bedridden. Moving our bodies is incredibly important for several reasons:
- It improves our blood circulation thereby ensuring organs, tissues, and cells get the nutrients they need to function.
- It improves muscle condition.
- It boosts your energy and makes you feel good!
Just think about this from a logical perspective for a second, and ignore the science behind it. Your body is made of different organs, tissues, and cells built to function in tandem. You’ve also probably heard that your body is mostly made of water right? What happens if this “water” remains stagnant? To me it means there will be very little movement of both nutrients and toxic waste. Do you now see why it’s so important that everything is continuously flowing?
Massage is no replacement for exercise, but it can still help improve circulation. It’s the very act of muscle manipulation that induces circulation of fluids. In other words, the kneading, tapping, compressing, stretching and squeezing done by a therapist’s hands can improve circulation.
#5 Gives Them Something To Look Forward To!
Massage gives us all something to look forward to!
It’s the excitement of anticipation I guess. I mean why wouldn’t you get excited over something that makes you feel so good!
Where I come from, massage is a luxury. It’s expensive so not everyone can afford to go for frequent massage sessions. If you’re fortunate enough to have this privilege, why not make the most of it! It’s all nice and good that you fully enjoy during massage, but you should also enjoy the before and after!
For seniors this is obviously a big deal, especially those who are immobilized and unable to enjoy most outdoor activities. It’s an experience to look forward to!
If You’re A Senior, What Are Your Options For Massage?
Massage doesn’t only mean frequenting a massage establishment. There are other options that all seniors can explore!
- Have You Considered A Massage Chair?—Massage chairs are expensive in the short term but cheap in the long term, if you factor how much you’ll save in therapist fees. Aside from this, they’re convenient, easy to operate, and incredibly effective!
- Or Just Do It Yourself!—In case you haven’t realized, massage isn’t rocket science! It isn’t far fetched to think you can’t massage yourself. All it takes is a little effort and practice. There’s tons of informative videos on YouTube that talk about how to self massage various parts of the body. I highly recommend you head over and check them out!
Remember To Consult With Your Doctor Beforehand!
I would like to state that the information provided in this post should not be treated as medical advice. I am not a doctor or therapist! All information presented is only meant for informational purposes. Massagers and More will not be held liable/responsible for damages of any nature whatsoever that results from using the information and recommendations discussed. You can check out my disclaimer for more information.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you’re a senior and you’re reading this, leave a comment and let me know what your favorite thing about massage is! Please considering sharing this post on the socials!