Gray-Haired Life Warriors: Massage for the Elderly
Published on February 19, 2013 by Karen Newmeyer
For some reason, totally unknown to me, I have signed up for the Swedish massage therapy class this quarter at Broadview University-Orem.Â In this class we learn techniques of full-body massage, chair massage, and hand massage.Â My husband and children are rejoicing since they are the direct beneficiaries. (Iâ€™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, Iâ€™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.
Today, the students in my Swedish Massage class, along with some of the more advanced massage students, visited Beehive Care, a senior care facility. OurÂ purposeÂ was two-fold: The opportunity to practice and hone our newÂ skills but also to serve the residents there. Little did I know that I would be the one to be served.Â 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.Â Not only is he a great storyteller historian, he is alsoÂ quite the song bird and poet.
He sang me â€śWhen Itâ€™s Spring Time in the Rockiesâ€ť and â€śYour Cheating Heart.â€ť 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 necklaceÂ and my sense that my time with him made a difference.
A second resident I had the pleasured to meet was Audrey.Â Audrey is an elegant lady: white haired with birdlike handsâ€”so delicate. I took special care to lovingly and gently massaging her sweet hands. She wasnâ€™t as talkative as Farrell. The difference may be that Audreyâ€™s children come to visit her daily. Farrell isnâ€™t so lucky that way but he doesnâ€™t complainâ€”he just sings (and makes necklacesâ€”his shirt pocket was full of them).
Our field trip to Beehive Care was about much more than just giving aÂ massage. It was about listening, talking, serving and sharing aÂ special moment with these gray-haired warriors of life.Â 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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