Taking a Moment to Breathe: Massage for Memory Care Residents

It’s not the first or the last time Globe University-Madison West massage therapy program students visited Covenant Oaks Memory Care Center for their service and applied learning project. The relationship has developed over several years and has been rewarding for all.

Massage Therapy program

Stephanie Felts, massage therapy student works on a Covenant Oak resident’s hand. Photo credit: Kristian DiPersio

Providing massage to residents at Covenant Oaks memory Care Center gives our students the opportunity to work with the geriatric population.  It’s an even more unique population because residents have been diagnosed with dementia or memory loss.

As Marcy Turner, events and activities coordinator explains, the residents get to relax.  “This is something some of our residents definitely look forward to,” said Marcy. “This allows our residents who are wandering and confused to be able to relax, to take a moment to breathe and to be able to focus on their bodies and themselves for a little bit.”

Kristian DiPersio, Pregnancy/Special Populations Massage instructor, explained the significance behind this project. “There are a couple of differences in working with an older population. You have to be very aware of the pressure,” he said. “With this population in particular, you run into issues of them not remembering who you are during the massage, so there are adjustments to make as you go. Students are also working with clients in chairs or wheelchairs, and there is a lot of adaptation involved.”

Massage Therapy program

Vicki Meier, massage therapy student at Globe University-Madison West, is all smiles while providing a massage to a Covenant Oaks resident. Photo credit: Kristian DiPersio

To prepare, students went over various situations they may run into with this population, brainstormed any issues that might arise—like if a resident forgets who you are while you are working on them—and how they would handle the situation.

Stephanie Felts, student in the massage therapy program, reflected on her day. “It was interesting. It was nice meeting a whole bunch of different people and hearing stories. I think it was good experience to get hands-on time and getting comfortable with working with that population.”

“The students are doing a great job interacting with our residents,” added Marcy. “They are very positive, very flexible and kind of going with the flow here today. They are doing a great job.”