With the help of a Massage Therapy Foundation grant, Hands to Help aims to bring the benefits of massage therapy to more people in need.
Serving elderly, disabled and terminally ill clients, along with their caregivers, Hands to Help aims to bring the benefits of massage therapy to more people in need. This type of massage outreach is needed as the U.S. experiences an aging population.
In August, Hands to Help, a nonprofit organization that provides free and discounted massage therapy, received a $5,000 Community Service Grant from the Massage Therapy Foundation.
Hands to Help founder, massage therapist Kelly Crocken Figi, said the grant will make it possible to provide close to 170 massage sessions.
In 2013, people 65 years and older made up about 14 percent of the U.S. population—and that number is expected to grow to more than 21 percent by the year 2040, according to the Administration for Community Living, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Everyone Deserves to Feel Loved
Maggie Glass, 81, said she credits Hands to Help for getting her through the challenges she faced after a series of surgeries and complications that left her in pain and almost immobile.
“Without the massages, I wouldn’t have been able to get out and get around and do stuff for myself,” Glass said. “The stretching and self-care I have learned have really helped me to do better.”
Glass is one of more than 300 clients to receive massage therapy from Hands to Help since the start of this year, Figi said. The team of practitioners providing the free and discounted services consists of Figi and two other massage therapists, Samantha Kuehn and Kelli McPeak.
“The patients we serve are often forgotten and lonely, and everyone deserves to feel loved,” Figi said. “We are able to touch people’s lives in ways that most people will never experience.”
Physiological & Emotional Benefits
Based in Illinois, Hands to Help offers six free massage sessions per year to people age 70 or older or those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness or progressive debilitative disease, as well as their full-time caregivers, such as spouses or adult children.
As far as the physiological and emotional benefits of massage therapy for this client population, Figi said Hands to Help aims to decrease feelings of isolation and depression, reduce anxiety and pain, help people feel relaxed, and provide comfort in end-of-life care.
“Massage reduces the pain of chronic disease, decreases muscle spasms and stiffness, and increases mobility,” Figi said. “It helps alleviate anxiety and depression, promoting better eating and sleeping habits. Massage also stimulates the release of the body’s natural chemicals that suppress depression.”
More Peaceful & Relaxed
Dody Ganim, whose mother has Alzheimer’s disease and no longer communicates verbally, said the massages from Hands to Help have been a made a big difference in her mother’s well-being.
“Since getting the massages, she no longer suffers from edema. We can keep her up all day without having to make her lie down to elevate her legs,” Ganim said. “After the massage, she’s more peaceful and relaxed. She smiles, which she doesn’t normally do.”
The therapists benefit as well. “It’s not just about the massage, but seeing someone light up when you walk into the room, knowing you’re the best part of their week,” Figi said. “That feeling is so good for the soul.”
About the Author
Brandi Schlossberg is an avid bodywork client and full-time journalist based in Reno, Nevada. She has written on many topics for MASSAGE Magazine, including “New Training Matches Sports Massage Therapists with NFL Prospects.”