Posted:Wednesday, December 13, 2017
By Massage Therapy Foundation President-Elect, Doug Nelson, LMT, BCTMB
65 million. In 2009, that was the number of unpaid caregivers in the United States. In a population where the average age is increasing, the number of unpaid caregivers in the USA is probably much higher in 2017. While the burden of caregiver stress is often overlooked, it is a very serious issue affecting our national health. Quite often, the caregivers do not seek medical care for themselves, yet the people they are caring for have far more attention from the health care system. The burden is heaviest for those caregivers who are taking care of a spouse since they are living with the people they are caring for; the burden is often unrelenting. In many cases, the caregivers are also dealing with medically challenging tasks such as catheters and wound care, challenges for which they feel very unprepared. The overall health picture for caregivers is quite bleak, with increased rates of depression, insomnia, heart disease, and ultimately decreased longevity.
However, there is positive news when looking at studies of the effectiveness of caregiver interventions. Even when the actual demands of care-giving have not lessened, many interventions have shown to decrease caregiver burden associated symptoms. It often doesn’t take a lot to make a significant impact. Massage therapy can be one of those interventions that can make a difference in the lives of people who give so much, but receive so little.
To this end, the Massage Therapy Foundation funded a 2017 Community Service Grant for the Rural Resources Community Living Connections in Pullman, Washington. This grant will fund massage therapy sessions for caregivers who are typically very low income, age sixty or older, and typically underserved in the health care system.
“For the first time in 6 years, it (therapeutic massage) forced me to do something for myself” — V.C.
This quote is from an individual who has been taking care of her husband for many years after his storke. He is bed-bound and remains at home and his wife was beyond thrilled when offered services that included massage therapy. Therapeutic massage is often the first step in a self-care regime that family caregivers need.
Community service grants are a program that everyone who has donated to the Massage Therapy Foundation can take great pride in. Together, we make a difference in the world.