New spa offers mind, body benefits

The physical value of massage therapy for older adults is a given: absence or decrease of specific painful areas, reduction of anxiety and stress and an overall sense of well-being. The mental and emotional benefits can be more subtle but often are long-lasting, leading to greater energy and activity.

But older adults are often reluctant to try massage. They may have preconceived notions of its immodest intimacy. They may consider it an extravagant luxury or a frivolous self-indulgence. They may resist touch of any sort.

Knowing that the benefits far outweigh the initial trepidation, The Greens at Cannondale is now providing residents and their families with a new spa for therapeutic massage, facials, aromatherapy, hand and foot reflexology and a walk-in, sit-down whirlpool bath for soothing sore muscles and aching joints while relieving overall tension.

Designed for comfort and privacy, the spa is for personal, renewing treatment, the entire space devoted to one person at a time, with an expert therapist.

According to Larry Apple, vice president of The Greens, “This addition to our therapeutic services took special planning and construction to provide the most effective  features of the finest spa facilities.”

Nancy Rabell,  massage therapist, is well aware of the gentle touch and appropriate pressure that must be customized for each individual. She has weekly appointments with a resident who has come to rely on massage for overall health.

“Americans don’t take care of their bodies as they get older, the way Europeans tend to do,” she said. “But regaining flexibility and greater ease of motion is a joy and a treat, as one resident remarked.”

The spa appeals to men as well as women. One male resident had a “test massage” with therapist and certified aesthetician Joyce Gomez to decide whether his wife would like it. “It turned out, we each enjoyed it,” he said. “I particularly like the whirlpool bath and hope to use it regularly.”

“There may be a certain hesitancy at first, but meaningful, caring touch is essential for older adults,” said Ms. Rabell. “ It’s actually a re-connection to strength and optimism.”

One resident said it all:  “After a massage in the spa, I feel like a new woman.”