Massage relaxes elderly, keeps them in touch


January 06, 1993|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

Finding it difficult to cope with the everyday stresses of lif and the wicked arthritis in her neck, Elizabeth Kruppa, 64, decided it was time to find a way to deal with the tension.

So she and her mother, Lavinia Lickliger, 91, visited the Arnold Senior Center to learn how to massage away the pains. The two women went to see Claudia Toone, a certified massage practitioner called in to teach the elderly the benefits of massage therapy.

"Every night I go to bed, I have to crack things," Mrs. Kruppa, a resident of Severna Park, said of her arthritis. "And my mother, who lives with me, has a bad hip."

Tuesday, Ms. Toone, who lives in Edgewater, taught them how to relax, using a form of therapy called the 15-minute seated massage. The massage, involving a chair and a pillow, addresses only the muscles from the waist up.

When the seated massage is given, Ms. Toone said, worker productivity increases and fewer headaches occur. "It rejuvenates and relaxes you," she said.

"As we get older we forget how to relax, and relaxation is a learned behavior," Ms. Toone added.

To remind elderly people to relax, Ms. Toone used Margaret Rudderham, 85, to demonstrate how to give a seated massage. Mrs. Rudderham, who lives in Arnold, gave two thumbs up to the therapy and said she did, indeed, feel relaxed.

"Oh, it was great -- wonderful," said Mrs. Rudderham, who never had received such a unique therapy. "Too bad I can't get such a massage every day. I'm glad I came."

Ms. Toone then paired off the 12 people and led them step-by-step through the therapy, from neck and scalp massage to finger-to-finger stretching and rubbing.

She said elderly needs differ from those of younger clients, and noted that most older people seemed touch-deprived -- perhaps a result of living alone.

"The need for touch is essential for good health. It's not just a senior need, it's a universal need," she said.

Geneva Raper, 90, who was paired with Mrs. Rudderham, found that most of her tension was in her scalp.

She said the massage felt so good that she almost fell asleep.

"I could sit here all day," she said as Mrs. Rudderham worked on her scalp.

Arnold Senior Center Director Sharon Poet brought Ms. Toone to the center after hearing about the great response at the Annapolis and South County senior centers.

"People just loved it," Mrs. Poet said. "It's a great way for the seniors to relieve stress. It's so very worthwhile."

Ms. Toone said the benefits of massage therapy include deep relaxation, stress reduction, relief of muscle tension, improved alertness and satisfying the need for a caring and nurturing touch.

"Massage therapy is an education," she said. "It's something that can be learned and incorporated into your life daily. It's not just a luxury."

Ms. Toone will finish her two-part session at the Arnold Center Tuesday.

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