Chair Massage with the Elderly

One day a month, I volunteer at an elderly assisted living. It is a very special place. I love the residents who are regular for chair massage. Quite an interesting blend of people. There are dancers, artists, musicians, restaurant owners, nurses, etc.

Today a 94 years old person came for a massage. She had just moved in. She was a dancer and a dance instructor all her life. She looked quite fit. She still stretches and exercises daily, sometimes she puts music and dances in her room. She had a beautiful posture. It saddens her to see people slumping and losing their posture. I can teach about posture, she says. It is so important especially at an old age, you don’t want to walk around with rounded back, your chin touching your chest.

I remembered then to check my own posture and align my spine…Thank you for this reminder, I replied.

She went on to tell me that she thinks that dancing daily may have helped her have strong body and bones – all the Jazz and Tap dancing did me good, she said. But, why are there some tender spots on my arms and shoulders, she asks, can you explain that?

I explained that we have energy lines or meridians that circulate all over our bodies and connect to our organs. Just like electric lines in our homes that connect to the main electric circuit or box. If the energy flows properly in these lines, it helps our organs function properly. My job is to do Acupressure or thumb pressure along these lines. That is a Japanese massage called Shiatsu. When there is a tender spot, it indicates some stagnation of energy or weak or lack of energy in that meridian or on some specific spots. I use gentle thumb pressures along the lines to create balance and allow a harmonious flow of energy, therefore helping the organs to perform their jobs.

She was fascinated, and never thought about massage that way. I really enjoyed our discussion together. I got reminded about my posture and the importance of exercising daily, and she understood my work better, and promised to come again for a shiatsu next month.

Another residents, also 92 years old. Always very elegantly dressed with matching colors. She says:”I don’t have any aches and pains. Your monthly massages are helping sleep all night. I used to have insomnia, and interrupted sleep. Now I sleep deep and all night. I don’t like to miss your visits, it makes me feel good.”

it is amazing how only fifteen minutes of shoulder, arms and back acupressure as a chair massage can make a difference for older people, just like children, that’s all they need – short and light touch massage.