The Benefits of Hand Massage Therapy for Seniors
Have you ever had a really good massage — the kind that leaves you feeling fully refreshed and ready to tackle whatever life might throw at you?
If so, you already know how powerful therapeutic touch can be. It feels good, eases muscle tension and can sometimes even alleviates physical pain. It also helps with stress and anxiety, boosts mood, and improves sleep.
There are a wide range of massage therapies, and they all have different health benefits. A few of the more popular massage therapies are deep-tissue, cranial, prenatal, sports and hand massage.
At The Moments, we’ve found that hand massages are particularly beneficial for older adults. One likely reason is that every part of the human body is connected through nerves located in the hands and feet. When pressure is applied in these areas, other organs — like the heart, kidneys, and gallbladder — are stimulated and the nervous system slows down
That slowing of the nervous system leads to other physiological effects, too:
- A decrease in heart rate
- Lowered blood pressure
- Shifts in the electrical brain patterns
Even better, it doesn’t take long to see these effects. Most full-body massages range from 60 to 90 minutes, but experts believe 20 minutes is more than enough time to enjoy the optimal benefits of hand massage.
Are hand massages good for you?
The health benefits of hand massage therapy have been studied for decades. Experts from all corners of the wellness industry agree that a 15- to 20-minute hand massage every day can dramatically impact both physical and mental health. And this is especially true for those with painful hand issues like arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of hand massage therapy.
Arthritis in the hands can be painful and debilitating. It limits strength and agility, too, making simple tasks like opening a door or unscrewing a jar incredibly difficult — or even impossible.
Hand massage therapy has been shown to help. A 2011 study found that participants had less pain and greater grip strength after a weekly professional hand massage and daily self-massage at home.
Older adults living with Alzheimer’s or dementia often experience increased levels of anxiety along with their gradual decline in cognitive ability. Studies suggest that a massage of any kind, including hand massage, can help significantly reduce the symptoms and put people in a better mood.
This results from an increase in the parasympathetic (calming) response throughout the duration of the massage.
Hand massages, like almost every type of massage, are deeply relaxing. As the brain starts to calm, it releases serotonin, a mood-boosting chemical that aids in the establishment of healthy sleep patterns. This, coupled with reduced anxiety and pain relief, helps lead to a better night’s sleep.
There are many causes of swelling in the hands, with the most common being surgery and injury. That’s because the body tries to fix the damage by increasing blood flow. But the problem is that capillaries are more permeable after injury or surgery, so white blood cells and plasma often leak out, surrounding the damaged area. The result? Swelling.
Hand massage therapy is a great way to encourage the body’s natural healing processes and reduce swelling by repairing damaged blood and lymph vessels.
Touch Therapy at The Moments
We’ve done a lot of research on the power of touch and its influence on cognitive function. As a result, we’ve discovered that touch therapy does a lot to help improve memory and make life more enjoyable for aging adults.
That’s why we always evaluate each of the five senses (touch included) when formulating treatment plans and designing our facilities. That’s also why we employ therapists who specialize in all forms of hand massage therapy so residents can enjoy the benefits of massage.
Want to learn more about the power of touch and memory care? Keep reading here.