Rural massage therapy brings hope for elderly

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PEOPLE may notice trouble walking or keeping up with their friends as they get older, which can be caused by many things among which many attribute to old age. 

However, difficulty in walking should not be always considered a sign of normal aging. Difficulty in walking can be a result of lack of exercise or being massaged.

As such B-Metro took time to visit Bhidi area in Plumtree where villagers, especially the elderly, benefit extremely from massage sessions initiated by locals.

Most people view massage sessions as a luxury, but in Bhidi they are recognised as an alternative medical treatment.

The massage sessions are not held in any fancy building but outside a homestead. No creams are applied on people’s skin but only hands, elbows, fingers, knees or forearms are used to administer touches ranging from light strokes to deep kneading motions.

A cloth is spread on the ground and people throng the homestead and wait for their turn to be massaged.

Inching across the soft cloth, Silibaziso Moyo prepares for her massage session. Each stretch and stroke of massage is a bit painful.

She pauses amid the heat and smiles.

“It only takes a little bit of trying and little by little my body becomes more flexible. The journey has been in no way easy. At first there were slight tears and moaning fits but I pressed on. These massage sessions have enhanced my blood flow and improved general circulation to my fingers, toes and legs,” said Moyo.

She added:

“I draw inspiration from every old person with spinal cord injuries, walking difficulties or paralysis who committed themselves to these massages and now they are walking properly again.”

Beyond helping her walk, the massages have restored Moyo’s sexual appetite. She has regained muscle mass, and the nerve pain in her right foot has disappeared.

Moyo, (62) is part of innovative massage sessions pioneered by a group of 10 women in Bhidi after realising that most elderly people do not have the money to visit the clinic. The pioneers decided to hold free massage sessions for the elderly three times a week.

“We have massaged more than 150 elderly people who are between the ages of 60-80 years. All I can say is this practice has been phenomenal. It’s fascinating to massage them and I would love for more elderly people to come for the sessions and experience the transformation that others are going through,” said one of the pioneers, Cesselina M Mlalazi.

She added: “Over the years, elderly people would just sit at home with walking problems because going to the clinic is very expensive. At the moment we are planning on making people below 60 years pay for the sessions.”

Sandi Dube, a health worker in the area, commended the initiative.

“It’s great to see women come up with this massage programme. A lot of people have been relieved of their pain and stress,” said Dube.