Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2013

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TEN FOR TODAY 7. REDUCE DISCOMFORT WITH BOLSTERS Arthritis is another common ailment in older clients, and bolsters may help ease pressure on tender knees and the low back. "You might recommend them to a client for use at home," says Kelly Metz-Matthews, spokeswoman for Earthlite Massage Tables. "Whether sitting on the couch or lying in bed, bolsters can reduce some of the discomfort the elderly might feel." 8. truly have no clue." Therapists should do a thorough intake interview to find out what medications a client is taking and why. Be attentive when people are getting on and off the massage table, and stay close by as they transition back to full speed following the massage, as some medication can cause dizziness. 5. REMEMBER "SCRIBE" Elderly skin is likely to be thin skin, so be cautious— long, intense strokes may not be appropriate. Mary Kathleen Rose, founder of Comfort Touch, uses the acronym SCRIBE to help therapists remember that method of massage, which is particularly appropriate for the elderly. It stands for Slow, Comforting, and Respectful. Direct pressure is applied Into the center of the part of the body being touched, with Broad, Encompassing contact. "It's very safe," says Rose, "and it doesn't require the use of lotion. The person can be clothed, which is also a comfort for a lot of people, and, logistically, it's easier for a person in a wheelchair." 6. CONSIDER CRANIOSACRAL Craniosacral therapy can be a good option for elderly clients. "It's a very gentle treatment," says John Matthew Upledger of the Upledger Institute, which offers a class called Craniosacral Therapy for Longevity. "A lot of the elderly who are really frail can handle it a lot better. Plus, it gets the craniosacral system flowing, which enhances the immune system and helps complement the natural healing process." Upledger says craniosacral therapy has also been shown to help reduce agitation, irritation, and stress in clients suffering from dementia. APPLY HEAT FOR ARTHRITIC BODIES Heat is another welcome therapy for arthritis. A product called Thermal Palms is a soft alternative to heated stones in which the heat comes from a hot oatmeal mixture placed inside a satiny wrap. "It glides smoothly over thin skin," says Eric Brown, director of Thermal Palms. "It's soft, so you don't have to worry about bruising the person or going too deeply." 9. ADD ESSENTIAL OILS Aromatherapist Tim Blakley, of Aura Cacia, has a special batch of oils he likes to use on elderly skin. "Argan is great for aging skin," he says. "Add lavender and it's even better." For skin tags—those harmless little skin growths common on the elderly—he recommends rose hips and helichrysum. Avoid irritating oils such as clove, oregano, and thyme. "As people get older, their skin gets more sensitive, so some may just be too harsh," Blakley says. 10. LOOK INTO LIFT TABLES If you work with wheelchair-bound clients, consider a lift table that will go down to 20 inches. (For ambulatory clients, 24 inches is acceptable.) "Always start with the table at the lowest height before clients enter the room, and finish at the lowest height so they can get off easily," suggests Jeff Riach, founder and CEO of Oakworks. "You might have to help clients to a seated position, so ending a session with the client supine is helpful." Also consider electric lift tables, which, while pricey, come with a federal tax credit for almost 50 percent of the purchase price, minus $250. "By the time you take into account the tax credit, that electric table can almost be less expensive than a high-quality portable table," says David Fried of Custom Craftworks. Rebecca Jones is a tenured Massage & Bodywork freelance writer. She lives and writes in Denver, Colorado. Contact her at See what benefits await you. 25

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