One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as a reflexologist, has been the privilege of providing reflexology for the elderly. I have participated in health fairs and other events at local senior centers, offering reflexology treatments – free of charge – to the senior community. It is such a thrill to see the smile on a 90 year-old’s face while he or she is receiving reflexology. Their energy changes. Some become more alert, others become completely relaxed. Not unlike younger reflexology recipients, however the responses are more palpable and discernible.
Reflexology For The Elderly Comes Of Age
As I am working on their feet, they will inevitably begin retelling the tales of their life. “I remember when…” is followed by “…and you have it so good these days.” And sometimes I agree! This being said, it is interesting to discover the conditions and environments in which this ever-increasing segment of our population was raised and grew up. The social, professional and personal underpinnings of their earlier years, played a significant role as it relates to the use and subsequent condition of their feet.
For women – for many years – high heeled shoes were the social expectation and norm. Unfortunately, high heeled shoes are probably the worst thing you can do to your feet! I know – they look AWESOME! But, you have to think about how your feet are going to be twenty, thirty, forty, even fifty years from now. Think about it, if you force them into a pointed toe and then shove them even further into that extremely restricted area by walking with the heel upward and pressing down, you’re not doing your feet any favors.
This is one of my favorite rants, so here goes… when wearing high heels, the body is in an unnatural position. The ankles, knees, hips, spine and neck are all at unhealthy angles and in unhealthy positions. Unfortunately, the female body looks remarkable when it is strutting in this particular pose. Alas, men and women both are to blame for the demise of the feet and, by extension, the body, when high heels are worn.
My point is, elderly women – those over eighty years of age, will usually have some foot-related issue due to wearing high-heels or some type of foot wear that forced their feet into unnatural positions. This must be taken into consideration prior to providing reflexology. Remarkably, some of them are still wearing their high heels! Okay, enough. I’ve made my point.
Reflexology For The Elderly – Men, Too
Mens feet are usually in better condition by comparison, however they’ve seen a lot of years and must be examined closely for any conditions that may require adjusting the treatment. I’ve had mens feet that were subjected to extreme conditions in the workplace. I had one male client who had worked digging ditches and his feet had been under water for long periods of time and for many years. The structural integrity of his skin and his feet, as a whole, was quite compromised and I could only provide light touch in limited areas of his feet. Most of the reflexology I provided for him was hand and outer ear reflexology.
One of the benefits of reflexology is knowing different types of reflexology. When providing reflexology for the elderly, it is important to be especially aware and attentive to the condition of the feet and the client’s response to the treatment.
Looking at the feet for any obvious issues is a reflexology best practice. Conditions such as bunions, fungus, varicose veins and skin conditions including athlete’s foot are grounds for making adjustments to, or denying a foot reflexology treatment altogether. Before providing foot reflexology, a thorough assessment of both feet and ankles should be performed to insure the feet can handle it. The feet are always the preferred area to access for a reflexology treatment, however it is imperative to be sure the feet can pass every test before providing reflexology for the elderly.
Even if the feet have no visually apparent issues, there may be stress fractures and/or neuromas (nerve-related problems) lying below the surface of the skin. Lastly, a good look at the structure of the foot itself and, an inspection of the integrity of the skin. Oftentimes in the elderly, the skin has thinned and there is not much thickness between the skin and the bones.
If an elderly client passes the preliminary criteria for receiving a foot reflexology treatment, then we proceed. If they do not pass, I perform the same type of inspection on the hands and will usually provide hand reflexology for them.
My 93 year-old mother-in-law absolutely loves hand reflexology. I will spend five to ten minutes per hand when we visit her. She is so grateful and really appreciates the comfort and relief she receives from reflexology. Unfortunately, she fell and broke the wrist on her right hand. She is pretty tough, as this is all that happened. I couldn’t give her hand reflexology for almost two months. She said that not being able to receive reflexology was the worst part of her recovery.
In most cases, reflexology for the elderly results in an immediate and positive response. These people have seen a lot in their lives and much of that has been standing on their feet – some in high heels, but I digress.. The ravages of gravity has wreaked it’s incessant havoc on these people and they will typically have aches and pains that are temporarily relieved by receiving reflexology.
I have given reflexology to my mother, who is seventy-seven years old, and she swears by it. Foot reflexology, and hand reflexology. She also walks ten miles per week and is very active. For the record, she got rid of all her high heels years ago. Way to go, Mom!
Bottom line is: reflexology for the elderly is an extraordinary way to provide a wonderful “feel good” experience, for our most experienced men and women.