Elder retired volunteers benefit from giving massage therapy to infants

Tiffany M. Field, Maria Hernandez-Reif, Olga Quintino, Saul Schanberg, Cynthia Kuhn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


This exploratory within-subjects study compared the effects of elder reared volunteers giving massage to infants with receiving massage themselves. Three times a week for 3 weeks, 10 elder volunteers (8 females, mean age = 70 years) received Swedish massage sessions. For another 3 weeks, three times per week, the same elderly volunteers massaged infants at a nursery school. Receiving massage first versus giving massage first was counterbalanced across subjects. Immediately after the first- and last-day sessions of giving massages, the elder retired volunteers had less anxiety and depression and lower stress hormones (salivary cortisol) levels Over the 3-week period depression and catecholamines (norepinephrine and epinephrine) decreased and lifestyle and health improved. These effects were not as strong for the 3-week period when they received massage, possibly because the elder retired volunteers initially felt awkward about being massaged and because they derived more satisfaction massaging the infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-239
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Gerontology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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