Spa visits often seem like an extravagant indulgence to some, but regular spa visits for seniors offer benefits that span the well-being spectrum—from relaxation to pain relief to an immune system boost.
Although spas vary in ambiance, most spas offer similar services across the board, including:
- Manicures and pedicures
- Acupuncture, acupressure and reflexology
- Hair removal
- Paraffin wax treatments
- Aromatherapy treatments
Spa treatments by condition
Each spa treatment offers multi-faceted health and wellness benefits, so many of their benefits overlap. But some spa treatments are tried and true for helping with certain conditions.
Several spa treatments like massage therapy and aromatherapy can help to alleviate symptoms of depression:
- Massage: Studies show massage battles the blues by boosting all four of your body’s “happy” hormones: endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine. It’s widely acknowledged that higher levels of these hormones are associated with improved mood and mood stability. Depression also causes physical symptoms – joint pain, body aches and muscle tension – all of which can be alleviated by massage.
- Aromatherapy: Spas often diffuse essential oils or incorporate them into massage therapy and therapeutic soaks as a form of aromatherapy. The popular favorite – lavender – can help to alleviate symptoms of depression, including postpartum depression. It also decreases stress, promotes relaxation and improves overall mood. Other oils like ylang-ylang, sandalwood or clary sage can have mood-enhancing effects as well.
Alleviate joint and muscle pain
Most spa treatments automatically improve pain simply by relaxing the body and nervous system, but some spa treatments are designed specifically for pain relief:
- Thalassotherapy (seawater therapy): Many older adults find that thalassotherapy can soothe arthritis symptoms and decrease inflammation by increasing blood circulation.
- Paraffin wax treatments: Studies report the benefits of paraffin wax baths for arthritic hands. Paraffin wax is more effective than other heat therapies for objective measures of range of motion, pinch function, grip strength, pain and stiffness.
Help with sleep
Improving sleep is the first step to improving health:
- Spa bath: This private hot tub treatment relaxes the muscles, turns off the part of the nervous system that goes haywire when under stress, and soothes any physical pains that may be preventing you or your loved one from sleeping soundly. Spa baths also usually include aromatherapy with sleep-harmonizing oils like lavender, chamomile or bergamot. Keep in mind that baths, in general, can easily dry out the skin of an older adult, so this treatment may only be suitable for caregivers.
- Acupuncture: A skilled board-certified acupuncturist can offer acupuncture treatments that increase the production of melatonin, the hormone that plays a large role in regulating sleep cycles. Acupuncture treatments can also be designed to strengthen the tongue to treat obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where the tongue falls back in the mouth and blocks the airway during sleep.
- Reflexology: If acupuncture needles make you nervous, consider reflexology. According to the art of reflexology, every part of the body is mapped to a corresponding region of the feet, hands and ears. Essentially a form of massage, the pressure applied to these regions during a reflexology treatment can stimulate the insomnia regions of the body to improve your sleep.
Improve symptoms of skin and nail conditions common to seniors
When it comes to addressing skin-related conditions, the best choice is to visit a medical spa, a specialized type of spa that offers the relaxing atmosphere of a day spa with the addition of the higher levels of training and medical expertise you would find in a medical office.
Most med spas focus solely on the skin and offer procedures you would typically only find at dermatology clinics or plastic surgery centers. These medical treatments are blended with relaxation treatments, making it the perfect way to pamper – and heal – your skin.
- Light and laser treatments and injectables like botox: These treatments can temporarily reduce the signs of aging with little side effects.
- Medical-grade skin care products: Most med spas will offer medical-grade skin care products to help skin conditions common to aging. These products have high-quality ingredients and little-to-no fillers, and can provide deep moisture to severely dry, cracked skin, improve skin tone and fight other causes of skin aging.
- Manicures and pedicures: As we age our nails often become brittle or even thicken. Both can make it difficult for seniors to wield clippers themselves. A manicure and pedicure will exfoliate dry, cracked skin and remove calluses safely. Choosing to have these services done by a professional reduces the risk of injury and infection.
Enhance immune function and overall health
- Lymphatic drainage massage: A lymphatic drainage massage is a specific treatment designed to activate the lymphatic system to help fight and prevent infection and illness. This specialized massage therapy speeds the processing and elimination of toxins in the body and excess water from the muscles, and can be used to aid in the treatment of several conditions that involve inflammation and tissue swelling, like rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic venous insufficiency and lipedema. Unlike other types of massage therapies that involve rigorous kneading of the muscle and intensive pressure on the skin, a lymphatic drainage massage is very gentle, making it an ideal choice for seniors.
- Acupuncture. Practitioners can painlessly treat the ears, hands or feet to improve metabolism, immune function and overall energy levels.
Research shows self-esteem peaks at around age 60 and declines in the average senior after that. This is presumptively due to a constellation of factors like health-related limitations and disabilities, a perceived loss of control, and increased loneliness. But, the good news is you can boost your loved one’s self-esteem with regular spa visits.
- Hair removal: Hair removal, shaving, threading and depilatory services will give your loved one a polished appearance, especially when removing facial hair from the upper lip or chin.
- Facial: Facials are the ultimate pampering experience and relax the face and neck muscles, which by itself reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. A facial that includes antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory ingredients like pomegranate, grape-seed extract, rose-hip extract, green tea or vitamin C will do wonders to your loved one’s face and smile.
One of the most overlooked but impactful therapies offered by spas? Socialization.
Visiting a day spa regularly gives seniors opportunities to socialize and make connections. These benefits multiply when you go to the spa with them! A spa day offers the ideal opportunity to bond with your loved one in a relaxed, calming atmosphere, away from the hustle and bustle of your daily routine.
Perhaps it’s time to reframe how you think about spa visits—shifting the perception of “pamper” to “prevent and empower.”