Getting old isn’t easy on the body. As people age, their bones become more brittle and the body becomes prone to the simplest of injuries. Muscle mass declines and arthritis irritates the joints.

Basically, getting older is uncomfortable. Fortunately for this clientele, massage therapy can help. Getting educated in geriatric massage through home study courses is a simple way to tap into one of the largest growing demographics in the country.

Geriatric massage encourages the body’s circulation, which helps to prevent complications of diabetes. It also helps with lymphatic flow and decreases muscular stiffness.

Massage techniques also help to treat many aging symptoms, including muscle and bone deterioration, arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, skin discoloration and respiratory problems.

Geriatric massage isn’t that much different than massaging regular adults, but there are a few nuances to the techniques to make you more effective for elderly clients.

Massages for geriatric clients are typically a half hour and practitioners will often spend more time on the hands and feet of the client, especially if the client no longer has full use of them. And for those clients who are wheelchair-bound, the massage therapist will administer the massage while the client is in the chair.

For your geriatric clients, regular massage can improve the length and quality of their sleep; relieve stress, depression and loneliness; and improve the general quality of their life.

Some geriatric massage home study courses include topics that cover physiological, psychological and sociological aspects of aging, client assessment, the modification of standard massage techniques and the business models of geriatric massage.

Recent massage studies have shown that geriatric massage was successful in lowering the agitation levels of nursing home patients.

The study, “Massage in the Management of Agitation in Nursing Home Residents with Cognitive Impairment,” evaluated 52 nursing home patients between 70 and 105 years old who had a history of agitated behavior and a diagnosis of cognitive impairment. During the two-week study, the massage sessions lasted 10 to 15 minutes, and massage therapy was provided to each participant on six separate days during that time period.

After two weeks of massage therapy, agitation levels in five measured areas showed decreases in agitation in all of the subjects.

Make sure you check with your national and state licensing bodies to make sure the courses you select are acceptable for your continuing education credits.

—Jeremy Maready