Elderly massage clients can benefit from regular bodywork to reduce joint pain, edema, stress, and blood pressure.
But, gentle massage techniques can also decrease their fear, anxiety and the feeling of isolation, as well as stimulate circulation, bowels and flow of lymph.
Why massage for aging client helps
Increased circulation and the overall sense of well-being can be invaluable to the client. Many older people are in pain, feel sad and depressed or are tired of being alone.
Caring Touch-They may feel discarded by their family. But, after an hour of attentive and caring touch, they may feel valued again.
Social Benefits-Studies show that social connections are a key element of good health for older people and isolation is very detrimental to health.
Reduces edema and, joint pain and swelling
Increased sense of well-being
Stimulates lymph movement and bowel movement
Decreases fear, stress, anxiety and depression
Promotes relaxation, better sleep patterns, and deeper breathing
Always make sure that they have discussed massage therapy with their doctor. There are conditions which would cause it to be harmful to the client.
What are conditions that would be inadvisable for elderly massage?
Severe inflammation of a vein
Swelling or edema
Bruises or skin sensitivities
Open sores or wounds
Recent heart attack, stroke, or flu
You must be willing to take the time to discuss medical issues, both recent and past, to access the information.
Massage techniques for working with elderly massage clients
Ask your client to dress in clothes that are simple and easy to remove because it takes older folks longer to undress and redress.
You should also be comfortable working with a low table, as many older people cannot get up onto a high table.
Extra time is required. It takes aging folks much more time to undress and redress. They also may walk and talk more slowly than younger people. Sometimes, you may need to help them redress.
Setting boundaries with older clients may be hard. They want to know about you and your family or they just don't want you to leave.
Ask the client to write their check before coming to their appointment or pay in cash
Talk to your client about their preferences of being massaged on the table (partially clothed vs.nude, side-to-side, (if needed) prone and supine)
Encourage them to be verbal about the amount of pressure the want or need
Discuss each step of the massage, especially if massage is new for them, so they are less nervous and can relax
Remind them that you are right outside the door if they need anything
Call them to remind them of their appointment the day before
If your client cannot hear well, speak clearly and if they have a hearing device, allow them to make the decision to take it off (or not) during the massage
There is a growing need for therapists who enjoy elderly massage clients, and a growing need from the elderly community for a compassionate, caring, healing touch.
Read more about
CE classes for Elder Massage and Compassionate Touch®.
To read more about health issues that elder folks face, please visit
Learn the best massage tips for working with elders in this
Compassionate Touch Massage DVD which teaches the safest massage techniques, as well as how to grow your practice around this growing population.
This is a growing area of massage therapy, because of the growing population. If you love working with elderly massage clients, this would be a wonderful type of massage therapy to practice.
Go back to Massage Education Guide Homepage
Go back to Massage Techniques from Elderly Massage