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Gray-Haired Life Warriors: Massage for the Elderly

Published on February 19, 2013 by Karen Newmeyer

massage therapy classes

Massage student ReAhna Dobson works with elderly client

For some reason, totally unknown to me, I have signed up for the Swedish massage therapy class this quarter at Broadview University-Orem. In this class we learn techniques of full-body massage, chair massage, and hand massage.  My husband and children are rejoicing since they are the direct beneficiaries. (I’ve really been giving massages for years without really knowing what I was doing.) Their report card? “Greatly improved.”

In addition to learning massage techniques, I’m learning the muscles and bones of the body and how everything works together. For example, I now know what the thenar eminence and the abdominal aponeurosis are. Who knew? While that can be impressive to the easily impressed, today I learned something new–something outside of textbooks and techniques.

massage therapy classes

Karen Newmeyer works with Farrell

Today, the students in my Swedish Massage class, along with some of the more advanced massage students, visited Beehive Care, a senior care facility. Our purpose was two-fold: The opportunity to practice and hone our new skills but also to serve the residents there. Little did I know that I would be the one to be served. There I met my new best friends, Farrell and Audrey.

While massaging his hands, I learned how Farrell received a scar on his hand while carrying in the milk pails after milking the cows when he was seven years old. Not only is he a great storyteller historian, he is also quite the song bird and poet.

massage therapy classes

My necklace

He sang me “When It’s Spring Time in the Rockies” and “Your Cheating Heart.” He sang me hymns and read me poems he had written, including one about the woman of his dreams. As I left, he presented me with a necklace he had made of plastic star shaped beads. I will treasure my necklace and my sense that my time with him made a difference.

A second resident I had the pleasured to meet was Audrey. Audrey is an elegant lady: white haired with birdlike hands—so delicate. I took special care to lovingly and gently massaging her sweet hands. She wasn’t as talkative as Farrell. The difference may be that Audrey’s children come to visit her daily. Farrell isn’t so lucky that way but he doesn’t complain—he just sings (and makes necklaces—his shirt pocket was full of them).

massage therapy classesOur field trip to Beehive Care was about much more than just giving a massage. It was about listening, talking, serving and sharing a special moment with these gray-haired warriors of life. What stories they have to tell and full lives they have led. More than a working knowledge of the human body is an understanding of the human heart. Maybe that is why one of the textbooks for our class is “The Educated Heart.”

Contributed by Karen Newmeyer, Librarian, Lawyer, Community Manager, and Massage Student (chronologically speaking).

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