Geriatric Massage

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Geriatric massage is the #1 fastest growing segment of practice in the United States, due to the baby boomer population entering retirement. There are a number of adaptations to your practice that you must make when working with this client population. If you are unsure about whether this course is right for you, you can get read more about the individual chapters below.

Geriatric Massage Course outline (4 CEUs):
  • Chapter One: What is Geriatric Massage?

Geriatric massage, also known as senior massage, is massage specifically designed for use with elderly clients. While a massage therapist’s instincts may say that geriatric massage is just Swedish massage with softer strokes, there are actually a number of adaptations to your practice that you must make when working with this client population.

  • Chapter Two: Benefits of Geriatric Massage

Like most forms of massage for all client populations, geriatric massage has the benefits of offering relaxation, pain relief, and stimulation through human contact. However, the special nature of the elderly client base means that massage has some additional benefits that will be covered in this course.

  • Chapter Three: Geriatric Massage: The Tissues and State of Mind

While much of massage therapy focuses on relieving muscle tension and lengthening muscles, geriatric tissues need to be approached differently. Many older clients will have muscular atrophy from a sedentary lifestyle, or the simple loss of muscle tone that comes with aging.

  • Chapter Four: Working With Staff in a Medical Facility

When performing massage for geriatric clients, you may have to travel to a hospital, nursing home, or other medical facility, since the client might not be able to travel to you. There are certain standards you should adhere to in a medical facility, which include but are not limited to the rules and regulations of the facility itself.

  • Chapter Five: Working With Patients in Medical Facilities

Along with working with staff in a medical facility, you will have to change the way you interact with the patients, as well. Client confidentiality is important to all body workers, and there are strict guidelines you must follow upon certification. These guidelines can be even more stringent in the medical community, especially since the adoption of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA), laws that standardize privacy and security of their personal information of patients in medical facilities.i

  • Chapter Six: Preventing Infections in Medical Facilities

The spread of infection in hospitals and medical facilities is so common that is requires its own chapter to consider. Roughly 2 million people in America get an infection during a hospital stay every year.ii Geriatric patients can be especially susceptible to infection due to their weakened immune system. You must take all necessary steps to prevent the spread of infection to clients you might be visiting in medical facilities.

  • Chapter Seven: Meeting the Client

Meeting a geriatric client for the first session might be very different from normally meet with other clients. Of course, the client might be in the hospital or another medical facility. They might be ill or in pain. There may be medical issues you need to go over before you can ever begin the massage.

  • Chapter Eight: The Massage

If the massage is taking place at your own studio, follow the same general guidelines about atmosphere as you would at a medical setting: avoid strong scents if the client has issues with nausea, keep the lighting soft, play soft music. If the client is in a medical facility in a hospital bed, he will most likely have to remain supine. Hospital beds are adjustable, usually, so you can raise or lower the head or legs as necessary.

  • Chapter Nine: Comfort Touch Techniques

Comfort Touch is a massage technique designed for the very elderly, frail, or ill, and is very useful when working with clients who are in the hospital, cannot respond to you, cannot be moved out of their bed or chair, or have other severe difficulties. These technique is a good choice for clients who are contraindicated for traditional Swedish massage techniques.

  • Chapter Ten: Comfort Touch Sequence

The Comfort Touch techniques can be used when the client is in any position, but the most common three are seated, supine, and side-lying. Session time can range from 10 to 50 minutes, but don’t go past that- if the client is frail enough to need Comfort Touch instead of traditional massage, a longer session might be too much stimulation or have unwanted side effects.

  • Chapter Eleven: Documentation and Other Considerations

If you are charting the massage session for the client’s medical chart, there are a few guidelines. This course will cover these guidelines for medical charts. Also, when working with geriatric clients in a medical facility, you will need to follow their style of documentation. Recommended documentation will be covered according to the client’s preference.




i Gayle MacDonald, Massage for the Hospital Patient and Medically Frail Client, Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2005


ii Emily Mullin, Professional Patient Advocate Institute, “2 Million Infected in Hospitals Annually, Though Prevention Strategies Exist,”



Continuing education units (CEUs) are provided via electronic download in PDF format. Review the course work at your own pace and then take the included test online. You can print your certificate immediately after passing each test! All coursework is NCBTMB approved (NCBTMB # 451897-12). NOTE: Each state has different requirements. Please be sure to check our state requirements page and contact your state to verify your requirements.