Should You Offer Massage With In Home Care for Seniors?

September 16, 2015

In Home Care for Seniors and MassageBecause a whopping 33% of those over 65 fall yearly, according to the Centers for Disease Control, in home care for seniors experts urge everyone dealing with a senior care to consider all options to reduce potentially life-threatening injuries. New research indicates that massage could help stabilize balance in seniors, reducing the risk of falls, causing Gerontologists, nursing associations and more to take a closer look at massage and it’s potential to improve the well-being of our nation’s seniors.

Researchers at Atlanta’s Auburn University and Samford University explored the effect of therapeutic massage on balance, appropriate muscle activation, spasm control and movement confidence. They began with the hypothesis that therapeutic massage would improve postural stability and overall cardiovascular health. They further proposed that improved motor function and health would increase senior confidence, allowing them to remain independent longer. In home caregivers and home care agencies can ease and enrich their clients’ lives when they share helpful research like this and consider incorporating professional therapeutic massage into the client’s care plan.

Participants in the massage study were divided into two groups: a “treatment” group that received six weekly 60-minute, full-body massages and a control group that rested for 60 minutes six times weekly in the treatment room. Testing after the six-week period showed “fairly robust” differences between the two groups. Those in the treatment group demonstrated improved ability to maintain balance. Systolic blood pressures were lower in the treatment group as well. If findings like these are replicated, treatments, standards of care and insurance coverage could change.

Massage for Osteoarthritis and Dementia

Balance isn’t the only health metric improved by massage. More studies indicate that massage has significant effect on senior osteoarthritis and dementia patients, two serious medical conditions thatproviders of in home care for seniors commonly encounter. Understanding how scientific study supports massage for seniors enables their loved ones and caregivers to bring a better quality of life to their loved ones and clients.

One study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine surveyed osteoarthritis patients aged 55 to 75 year over eight-weeks. After documenting their levels of pain on the often used the WOMAC pain assessment, a 24-question self-report using a 0 to 100 scale, the treatment group received massage twice weekly for four weeks and then once weekly for four weeks thereafter.

After the eight weeks ended, participants assessed their pain again using the WOMAC pain assessment tool. In the treatment group, scores for pain improved by 23 points from the beginning compared to their initial reports. Stiffness improved by 21 points and physical function disability by 20.5 points. The control group reported the same levels of pain at the end of the study that they did at the beginning.

Patients with mild to moderate dementia may also respond to massage, according to some studies. In a review of seven studies on hand massage and relaxation with dementia patients exhibiting anxious and agitated behaviors, researchers found that a hand massage lasting from three to 10 minutes showed statistically significant improvements in behavior. While there are only limited studies on the benefits of massage and touch therapy for those suffering from dementia, so far the research has been promising and deserves to be explored further as a complimentary treatment.

My Care Match: Your Resource for Senior Care, Information and Companions

The rise in the price of medications along with the concern over long-term, harmful side effects these medications sometimes create, has resulted in more people looking to try other possible solutions. Typically considered, “complementary” or “alternative” healthcare intervention, massage has come a long way from the fringes of medicine to the mainstream. Let your or your loved one’s healthcare team know that you might be interested in massage so they can consider whether it might be an appropriate addition to your care plan.

Connecting those who need care with those who provide in home care for seniors, My Care Match helps families coordinate care solutions to help provide fulfilling quality of life for elders. If you’re in need of an in home care provider or want to compare assisted living options, My Care Match makes the process simple and straightforward. Dedicated to supporting those who seek the best quality of life for America’s senior citizens, we keep you updated on the latest in research, legislation and care. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

About the Author

Doug Breuer is co-founder of and has worked in senior care for the last 9 years for the State of Oregon. From investigating cases of elder abuse to managing the delivery of long term care to residents of Central Oregon, Doug has been involved in all aspects of senior care.

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