I came across this statement and found it interesting and staggering. It stated, “Our aging population is expected to double by 2050.” My question to that is, what exactly defines “aging population?” Is it when they hit the elderly age? If it is, then what is the definition of elderly? I looked it up on Google’s Wiley Online Library and they defined it as, “A chronological age of 65 years or older…” According to Wikipedia, they are not one and the same. Their definition of an aging population simply means when people reach the age where their fertility rate is declining along with rising life expectancy. M y definition for aging is when we have more possible health concerns looming on the horizon than we ever did when we were younger, meaning we have advanced far enough with our age that we can no longer ignore the health warnings. We need to become proactive with our health, especially if we want to live healthy lives as we age. To quote my husband’s uncle (who has since passed), he said, “Getting old is not for sissies.” How true. T hat being said, I found an interesting article that lists 10 ways massage helps the elderly. It’s titled, “Top 10 Health Benefits of Massage Therapy for Seniors.” At the very beginning of the article is a quote from the American Medical Association that is thought provoking, to say the least; “It has been verified through scientific exploration that more than 80 percent of all diseases are due to stress and strain that originate in the mind and reflect on the body.” For those of you who are interested, the article can be found in its entirety on the Judson Smart Living blog. H ere is their list of top 10 benefits:
1) Increased blood flow to limbs: good circulation can become increasingly difficult as we age and massage therapy can help the flow of blood into the limbs.
2) Improves balance and gait: due to massage’s ability to increase blood flow to the limbs, it helps to improve the sense of relative position of body parts.
3) Softens hard muscles and tissues: massage helps by increasing blood flow to the area and ultimately reducing overall muscle tension.
4) Produces feelings of caring and comfort: some people enjoy massage because it can produce feelings of caring and connection.
5) Stimulates the nervous system: research has continually supported that claim, showing how therapeutic massage helps produce hormones that have enormous benefits on the body, including serotonin and dopamine.
6) Eases stroke recovery: following a stroke, seniors are advised to get up and get moving again. A major aid to this is massage therapy. It stimulates affected areas, focusing on anything that might be paralyzed.
7) Increases flexibility: as our aging muscles tighten due to inactivity, it’s important to help them relax.
8) Improves sleep.
9) Immune support: massage releases a lot of toxins and greatly supports the functioning of the immune system.
10) Relieves arthritic pain: focusing on increased blood flow to the joints and warming affected areas has proven benefits in pain relief for those suffering from arthritis. W hen you may be in the middle of a health issue or concern can massage help you? Possibly. Why not live your elder years enjoying your life in a healthy fashion? One of the ways you can help propel yourself there is through massage. Coupling massage therapy with other relaxing and preventative measures can enhance its positive effects.
Susan Santi is a certified massage therapist and owner of Ahhh Massage in Virginia, MN. Feel free to contact her with questions at 218-410-2144.