TRUMAN - Tucked away inside Truman Senior Living is a space intended for relaxation.
Relaxing music plays in the background, accompanied by a fountain quietly bubbling water; candles flicker, illuminating a cozy, comfortable room; and center stage stands the massage table where Tammy Becker does her work.
"It's just like heaven in here," said Verna Slinger, a resident at Truman Senior Living and one of the massage therapist's clients.
Tammy Becker, a massage therapist whose studio is located in Truman Senior Living, gives a foot massage to Verna Slinger, a resident at the facility. “The Chinese believe all healing comes from the feet, hands and ears,” Becker said, referring to reflexology treatment.
Becker has been working with senior citizens for years, starting out as a nursing assistant at the same facility where she now has her massage studio.
"I didn't find this career. It found me," she said.
She had gone back to school for nursing, but did not complete the program.
"It just didn't feel right," she said.
For about five years, she struggled to figure out what she wanted to do with her life, jumping from job to job. She was working with a teen-age girl with disabilities when she was first exposed to the benefits of massage from her client's mother, who was trained in Russia on various massage techniques. Becker went on to apprentice under that woman's tutelage, learning multiple styles of soft-tissue manipulation. She lists in her services Swedish- and Russian-style massage, reflexology, hot stone therapy, fire cupping, aromatherapy and more.
With elderly clients, she typically avoids deep-tissue massage, but her approach varies with each person. Before working on anyone, she has them fill out a questionnaire that asks for health history information.
Becker's first consideration with senior citizens is their skin condition, since older skin can be very fragile. Some of her clients are wheelchair-bound, or unable to easily maneuver themselves to the massage table, so she literally meets them where they're at.
After assessing their specific needs and how much pressure they are comfortable with, Becker makes sure they are warm enough, since "circulation diminishes with age," and then the real massage work begins.
"I make sure I go over the top when it comes to making my clients comfortable," she said.
As much as they may physically benefit from the manipulation of their joints and muscles - movement that massage proponents promote for increasing circulation and promoting healing - Becker knows her elderly clientele enjoy the company as much as anything.
"Just having that one-on-one time, for just half an hour or an hour, is really important to them," she said.
Becker's patrons include not only residents at Truman Senior Living, but also nursing home staff and the general public. Her client base ranges in age from 9 to 90.
For more information, contact Becker by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (507) 399-4018.