Just before Christmas a colleague and I decided to volunteer our therapeutic massage services at a local assisted living facility. It was (as always) an amazing experience. To meet such a group of warm and wonderful people is such an honor. Knowing that the services we were providing were going to reap large benefits in the health and emotional well-being of these people felt amazing. I have always loved working with the elderly population because I feel that we oftentimes fail to give them the respect that they deserve. Although unarguably, there are circumstances which force us to place them in facilities that can look after their needs, it is an unfortunate reality that most, if not all of them suffer from tactile stimulation deficit which even on its own can lead to depression and low immunity. A few minutes of touch a day is enough to release the neuropeptides and other vital chemicals and neurotransmitters that are responsible for pain relief, emotional balance and better mental clarity. Perhaps the most important thing of all, however is the love that they receive from us during their treatments. Most scientists shy away from using the term “love” because it somehow implies a force with less gravity than let’s say oxytocin and serotonin releases in the brain. I believe that we need to bridge the gap between science and humanity and recognize love as the healing and transformational force that it truly is.
As a massage therapist with many years of experience in both worlds of touch therapy (clinical and spa oriented therapeutic massage,) I have to say that the prevailing energy that is present in my work is that of love. Not only do I love my work, but I lovingly care for my clients and patients with an energy that moves through me rather than coming from me. I know in my heart that this energy is God’s Healing Love for his children. And I feel so priviledged to work in this field and to provide pain relief and healing balance to my clients. A beautiful therapist friend of mine, B. Kaye Stuart, once said to me “What an honor it is to have God put his children before us on the table and allow us to touch them and be part of their healing. Where else in the world would we be able to anoint them with oil and pray over them as a career?” We laughed a bit at that sentiment, but wow does it ever hold true. I can honestly say that I can’t imagine ever being happy or fulfilled doing any other work.
Ministry of Touch is a group that I founded for Therapists who want to give of themselves and who believe that God ministers to his children through our touch. Growing steadily, this group still needs more members. So if you are a massage therapist, or if you have a massage therapist-please let them know about us. It doesn’t require any heavy time demands or financial burdens. It is simply a group of like minded people making a difference in the health of the world one massage at a time. Also, if you are in need of services (or you know of someone who is) please feel free to post your needs on our Facebook Wall.
Some of the benefits of massage for the elderly include lessening of depression, higher self-esteem, better circulation, pain reduction, improved alertness, improved clarity and focus and a better outlook on life. Remember that our immune cells listen in on our moods, so if we are feeling down and out and depressed, our immune cells are going to become sluggish and unresponsive to events in the body (such as viral intrusion, i.e; catching a cold, etc.) This is true for the elderly, the young—it’s the same for everybody. Many minor infections become more dangerous however, as we age so it is even more important to be sure that our elderly loved ones are getting the things they need in order to be in their best possible health, and this most definitely includes massage therapy.