Published by Massage Magazine

According to the AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving’s 2015 “Caregiving in the U.S.” report, an estimated 39.8 million Americans, or 16.6 percent of the population, provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the 12 months prior to the survey.

Mary Hartill, who lives in rural Washington, falls into this category. She cares full-time for her beloved husband, Jim, a military veteran who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

“I do everything for my husband,” she said, including lifting him in and out of bed, getting him dressed and into his wheelchair, feeding him, bathing him, and everything else he needs to get through each day.

Hartill does receive some outside help with caregiving, but only on a few days per month. The Veterans Administration pays for an aide to come in for two six-hour days, and a local organization, Rural Resources, provides assistance one day a week through its Family Caregiver Support Program.

During one of those off days each month, Hartill enjoys a very special respite from caregiver stress, just for herself: one hour with a massage therapist, who gives her a foot and leg massage.