The population in the United States is getting older. This is simply a fact. The baby boomer generation and subsequent generations are all becoming a part of the elderly community. As each generation ages, this brings new challenges for both them and their loved ones.
Aging is accepted as being a part of life on this Earth, but it has recently been uncovered by scientific research that the conditions of aging are not normal. This means that declining in health as one ages is considered a normal part of life, but it is not. This includes cognitive decline, which is not only abnormal, but preventable as well. Degenerative diseases, weakened and declining immunity, and other age-related health conditions are not “just a part of life.”
They are in fact diseases, and can be prevented or at the very least mitigated. There are even terms to describe those who are aged but do not suffer from any of the diseases of aging:. One such term is “aging well” or “healthy agers.”
This is good news for the young adults who are caring for their aging parents. There is hope that their mothers and fathers can be brought back into a state of good health, strong immunity, and good mental health by some easy to implement lifestyle changes.
The best thing that can be done for elderly parents is giving them regular sessions of geriatric massage. Senior massage, and massage therapy in general, can boost their immunity and help them to have a richer experience in their later years.
One of the key benefits, though, of senior massage is companionship. Many elderly patients are lonely and depressed, as they have often become a burden to their loved ones. While many seniors live in their homes, with caregivers helping them to live normal lives, many seniors are unable to live on their own. For these patients, assisted living facilities and nursing homes may have become a natural solution. Most of these places have provisions in place for senior massage for their patients, if it is provided for them by a loved one.
Of course, there are other things that one can do to prevent and in some cases reverse the deleterious effects that aging can have on some individuals. In the research that has been recently conducted, where it was found that aging is a disease as opposed to a natural course of life, it was found that lifestyle changes can help to prevent some of the effects of aging.
It is likely that because inflammation is a key component of the disordered aging process, massage for elderly patients can play such a crucial role. There are other ways to help with inflammation as well, such as the herb turmeric. It has been reported in numerous studies that turmeric is an excellent anti-inflammatory, and it can also help to prevent and in some cases reverse DNA damage. Since damaged DNA plays a role in aging, this may be helpful to some elderly patients as well.
In addition, mild to moderate exercise has been shown to reverse aging on a cellular level, by lengthening telomeres, which are the end-caps on the DNA strands that make it possible for DNA to replicate. As people age, in general, these telomeres become shorter and shorter, until there is not enough space left for the DNA to replicate. This is where death occurs. However, since research has found that exercise can help to halt and sometimes reverse this process, it is likely that an exercise program may also help your loved one.
In many cases, elderly patients are made to become sedentary by their doctors or caring family members who are misguided. Sometimes it is because they have fallen and may have fractured their hip. Sometimes, they used to walk around the neighborhood but have started to get lost. Instead of giving them a GPS enabled cell phone, family and physicians often simply forbid them to leave the house. Then they may be unable to leave their chair, after which they are provided with a walker since they can’t walk on their own. Then their mobility declines, along with their overall health. Muscles are meant to be used, and when they are not used, they atrophy (or shrink). This is never a good condition to be in.
Geriatric massage may have the added benefit of increasing muscle tone and reducing pain. Over time, with regular senior massage, some elderly patients may be able to rely less on a walker which became necessary due to their lack of physical activity.
Since in many cases, the diseases of aging can be a vicious cycle, where more falls or more pain lead to less movement, which leads to more atrophy and more pain, massage for the elderly may play a role in stopping this cycle.
By increasing muscle tone, atrophy can be reduced. By reducing pain, the elderly patient may be inspired to take more frequent walks, even around the nursing home or assisted living facility, if that is where they are. Walking at even a moderate pace has been shown to reduce the chances of a stroke or heart attack, at levels similar to many of the stroke prevention medications that are available.
So, the best solution for your aging loved ones may be to get them regular sessions of senior massage, and help them to get moving by taking them on walks, using exercise balls and machines with them, and doing as much as you can to help them have a better quality of life. Geriatric massage can certainly help in this area, and you can do your own research to find other things that can help them to have a more fulfilling and rich life in their later years. It is never too late to make changes to help your aging family members make the most of their later years.