"Caregiver Burnout" according to WebMD "is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude -- from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned". I can bet if I asked for a raise of hands of those who know someone who is caring for an ill spouse or child or elderly parent(s) a large majority would raise their hand. Half of those who raise their hand could possibly be one who is the caregiver.
Why is this so important? Being a caregiver is exhaustive work both physically and mentally day in and day out. Caregivers do not get a break unless they are fortunate enough to have committed family and friend support. Even then a caregiver can get overwhelmed. How can you know if someone you love, whether friend or family member, is showing signs of burnout? Here are just a few signs to look for:
--Alicia Lingenfelter, LMT, CMLDT, OMT
Embrace Life Therapeutic Massage
The simple answer is YES! Don’t be afraid of treating yourself, or someone you know, to a massage treatment(s) while going through treatment for cancer. There’s no reason why anyone who has cancer should avoid massage therapy. In fact, it can be an incredibly life-affirming treatment that should boost well-being and help with the stress of cancer treatments. I always recommend that if a client is in cancer treatment they let their health care providers know they are receiving massage therapy. This will give your health care providers a chance to let the therapist know of any issues they need the therapist to be aware of.
Having a massage while having medical treatment for cancer can really put you back in touch with your body again. It can feel almost alien while you’re being examined and prodded by medical experts, receiving treatments that make you feel bad and having test after test. The simple pleasures of touch and massage can help reconnect you with your body, making you feel more human and ‘normal’ at a difficult time. At Embrace Life Therapeutic Massage you will find it a safe place to chat and share your thoughts and fears that you may not feel you can share with your family.
Massage sessions are adapted to your unique situation. Together we will determine what your needs are for that day and develop a massage plan together. Techniques will be adjusted taking into account your type of treatment, your energy level, and possible doctors orders (if given any). My goal is for you to be able to retreat to your happy place during your massage session and feel relaxed and more "you" when your session is finished.
Massage therapy during cancer or after cancer treatments doesn’t just feel nice; clinical studies have shown that massage can reduce symptoms such as stress, nausea, pain, fatigue and depression, all too common when you’re dealing with a serious illness.
Don’t worry – research shows that massaging muscle and soft tissue doesn’t spread cancer cells – that’s a myth. A relaxing massage is perfectly safe for people at all stages of cancer treatment, although techniques used and length of a massage session may vary. Tumor sites or any compromised tissue or area will be avoided during all massage therapy sessions.
The myth that massage can spread cancer came about because some people believe that the cancer affected cells can be moved around the body via the lymphatic system. This isn’t true; circulation of lymphatic fluid actually happens naturally as we move, and it can’t cause cancer to spread. Cancer develops and spreads because of changes to a cell’s DNA not through cells being circulated around the body. There’s nothing to worry about!
Scientific studies have shown that massage may reduce pain, fatigue, nausea, anxiety and depression in people having cancer treatments like chemotherapy and surgery.
What are the health benefits of massage for cancer patients? People who’ve had massage therapy sessions during their cancer treatment say that they’ve noticed a wide range of positive effects afterwards. These include: better sleep, improved healing of scar tissue, a better quality of life, more mental clarity, and better range of movement.
A large American study from 2004  looked at the effects of massage therapy on almost 1300 people with cancer over three years. The study found that massage therapy reduced pain, nausea, fatigue, anxiety and depression, and the longer the massage sessions, the more relief people reported.
Another smaller study  looked at how safe and effective massage was in reducing stress hormones in people who had blood cancer. People were given aromatherapy, massage or rest; massage significantly reduced amounts of stress hormones in the people who took part in the study.
So, if you, or someone you know, is dealing with cancer, or has just been through treatment and needs a pick-me-up, choose massage. Gift certificates and massage packages available.
Embrace Life Therapeutic Massage
1 Fellowes D, Barnes K, Wilkinson SSM. Aromatherapy and massage for symptoms relief in patients with cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Iss 4. 2 Stringer J et al. Massage in patients undergoing intensive chemotherapy reduces serum cortisol and prolactin. Psycho-Oncology 2008 Oct; 17 (10): 1024–31.
For many, the idea of massage as healthcare is still a foreign concept, so often it’s not understood why massage therapists require all clients to fill out a health/intake form. However, this is a very important part of how we assess your needs for the session.
While these forms provide us with the obvious contact information so we can get in touch if needed, more importantly, they give an overview of your health history and current conditions that may need to be taken into consideration. A general relaxation massage poses no danger to most people, but certain health problems may make even the most gentle massage contraindicated (not advised) or you may need to be referred to another massage therapist who specializes in certain techniques, or another healthcare profession entirely. For instance, someone with a history of, or a current blood clot may be turned away for their own safety. However, someone with significant lymphedema can often be referred to a specialist who provides manual lymphatic drainage.
Medications are also an important factor to disclose because some medications can have certain side effects we need to know about. If you’re on a medication that lowers your blood pressure, you may need extra time or even help getting up off the table at the end of your session, as massage can lower your blood pressure even more. If bruising is a side effect of your medication, we want to be sure to warn you that if you’re seeking deep pressure, you should expect to see some light bruises after your massage, or deep pressure may be ill-advised completely (depending on several other factors).
In addition to your health history, the intake form also provides us with a sense of what your goals are for your massage sessions. If you have any certain pain complaints or injuries that need to be addressed, this is where you’d list out the details of that. This helps us begin to develop a plan of care for you. We also keep notes on all clients to track progress and changes from one session to the next, altering the plan of care when needed.
While it can take some time to fill out the paperwork necessary to get a massage, remember, this isn’t just a massage, it’s healthcare. Those few minutes it takes to complete the paperwork can mean the difference between a mediocre or even dangerous session, and an amazing massage!
Embrace Life! Therapeutic Massage
Massage therapists everywhere will agree that a regular massage is certainly great for your health and well being but can you claim a massage as a legitimate medical expense? Well, actually, yes you can. Here are three ways you may be able to get that massage paid for.
If you have a flexible savings account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA), it allows you save money tax-free from each pay check - and you can use the funds to pay for massage. Definitely worth looking into because if you don’t use your allocated funds by the end of every year they go right back to your employer.
Massage therapy is one thing you may be able to use the funds for. A medical massage is a ‘qualified medical expense’ – but you’ll have to have a written prescription from your healthcare provider. The IRS also states that “medical care expenses must be primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental ailment.” So, if you’re getting a massage to relieve or help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, stress, back pain, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression or for pain management, you can claim.
Your healthcare provider will need to prove:
Are massages tax deductible expenses?
Talking of the IRS, you might not be aware that there are some situations where you can potentially deduct massage therapy on your taxes – but as with FSA and HSA you have to make sure that your massages qualify.
You can’t deduct massage from your taxes if:
• You paid for it using with an HSA or FSA account.
• It was a pleasure massage and not carried out for a nonmedical reason (or for a medical reason not officially diagnosed by a medical professional.)
You may be able to deduct your massages if you’re getting them for a medical reason, and you have an official diagnosis.
According to the American Massage Therapy Association, in 2016, 17% of all Americans talked to their healthcare providers about massage therapy, and 63% of those doctors either referred the patient to a massage therapist or recommended medical massage. If a doctor, or other licensed medical practitioner, like a chiropractor, prescribes massage, it’s worth looking into deducting the expense on your taxes.
Keeping records of your medical massage
If you’re going to deduct medical massage on your taxes, you need to make sure that your massage therapist is licensed in his or her state of practice, and always keep your receipts.
Insurance Covered Massage Therapy
Did you know that your insurance could cover massage therapy too? It all depends on the insurance plan and carrier, and as with all insurance policies, there will be terms and restrictions. Some plans cover massages under the form of chiropractic care, while others cover a small amount of each massage treatment, say 15 minutes. You can find out if your insurance covers massage therapy by taking a closer look at your health insurance policy or asking your agent.
So, there you have it...three ways in which you may be able to get the cost of your medical massage treatments covered!
Have you heard of hydosols? I had not until recently so I started doing some research on what they are used for and found it quite interesting. The "short and sweet" explanation of a hydrosol... when plants are being steam distilled or hydro distilled for their essential oil properties the water that remains from the steam distilation process is the hydrosol. Hydrosols have the same aroma and therapeutic properties and can be sprayed directly onto the body whereas some essential oils need to be mixed with a carrier. Hydrosols can be sprayed on the skin, on to your sheets at night or just into the air as a freshener. Love it!
One thing that kept popping up while doing the research is to be careful you are really getting a pure hydrosol. Same with purchasing essential oils it is important to get pure 100% essential oils. There is a lot of essential oils floating around now that they have become so popular and many are not 100% essential oil. Some have what they call "fillers" and will only be a small amount of actual essential oil. So apparently it is the same with hydrosols. Some are sold as floral waters which is water with drops of essential oil added. so just be aware of what you are purchasing.
Here are a few common hydrosols and their therapeutic properties found on https://naha.org (National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy:
German Chamomile: anti-inflammatory, cooling, inflammatory skin conditions
Clary Sage: PMS, hot flashes, anti-depression, astringent
Lavender: relaxing, anti-inflammatory
Neroli/Orange Flower: stress relieving, all around skin care, astrigent
Witch Hazel: astrigent, insect bites, oily skin, acne, wound cleanser
Here are just a couple of places that I have heard about where you can purchase hydrosols. I am not endorsing them but here is a good place to start researching for yourself.