About two years ago Port Washington resident Marc Silverstein saw a need. At that time his elderly mother was receiving care in and out of senior care facilities. Among all the services that were offered, it was the one that was not offered that stood out in his mind. No one offered massages for seniors. Silverstein, a man in his 40s, still plays basketball, and relies on massages to keep him limber and mobile.
“I saw this as a benefit for seniors on a broad scale,” Silverstein said. “There are both physical and emotional benefits to massage. Ten percent of massage school graduates study geriatric message. Far less practice it because facilities aren’t offering it to residents.”
That's why Silverstein founded Port Washington-based Tender Touch For All, where he serves as executive director. This non-profit entity provides massage therapy to seniors and veterans in facilities including nursing homes, assisted living facilities and Veterans Affairs centers. The organization sprang to life about seven months ago, Silverstein said.
Silverstein is not a massage therapist. He hires therapists as individual contractors. They usually provide their service at a discounted rate.
The benefits to seniors are plentiful. Recent studies suggest that massage can help reduce pain, improve flexibility and increase mobility in those who suffer with arthritis, Silverstein said. In addition, receiving massages on a regular basis lowers anxiety and improves grip strength for those with arthritis.
In addition to helping those with arthritis, massage can reduce the aches and pains associated with growing older. It can also enhance awareness, sensation and circulation in certain parts of an aging body, with specific approaches for those with stroke, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.
“It lowers anxiety and relieves depression,” Silverstein said. “The human touch helps emotional well being as well as physical well-being.”
The nonprofit currently serves the New York metropolitan area but could expand its footprint. Already it provides massages onsite to the Buena Vida Continuing Care and Rehabilitation Center in Brooklyn and the Northport Veteran’s Hospital. Silverstein expected three other Long Island facilities to sign up for services imminently.
“I think the program will really take off in 2011,” Silverstein said. “The first phase was a test model to get all the kinks – no pun intended – worked out.”
Residents and staff the Buena Vida are quite happy with the massages.
“We include the massages in a program we have once a month called spa day,” said Debbie Laskin, director of recreation and volunteers at Buena Vida. “In that day we include make-up, hairstyling, nails and aroma therapy. We added another station for the massage. It’s relaxing and soothing for those with arthritis. We’ve had a very positive reaction by residents. Those who are high functioning and able to speak for themselves say they really enjoy it. For the low functioning residents who are unable to speak, it brings a smile to their faces. If their hands are clenched they open their grip relaxing and responding in that way.”
For Buena Vida resident Edwin Rodriguez, 64, the massage is rewarding.
“It’s beautiful,” Rodriguez said. “It’s very relaxing and very comforting. I wish it could be more often. It relieves my arthritis pain.”
Concetta Zunno, 84, another resident at Buena Vida, also enjoys the massage.
“It’s relaxing,” she said. “No matter how old you are it’s nice to be pampered.”
Note: Patch has just learned of the Feb. 16th passing of Edith Silverstein, who according to the Tender Touch For All website, served "as the inspiration for the founding" of the organization.