By Bruce Stambaugh
Jill Weatherwax, 59, of Glenmont, Ohio likes to lend a helping hand whenever she can.
Weatherwax, who by day works at Rice-Chadwick Rubber Company in Killbuck, spends several evenings each month helping others feel better. She provides reflexology treatments for residents at area retirement and nursing homes.
Weatherwax has been offering her services to seniors for a dozen years now. In fact, she specifically focuses on the elderly for a personal reason.
“I got into this because I missed my grandparents, Bob and Sally Allison,” the petite woman said. “I felt a void without them around.”
Weatherwax has easily filled the void all these years with her gentle touches. She is careful to differentiate what she does from that of massage therapy.
Reflexology is considered a complementary touch therapy. Weatherwax gently, but firmly, works with the hands and feet of senior residents at Majora Lane Nursing Home, Sycamore Run Nursing Home, both in Millersburg, and Walnut Hills Retirement Home, Walnut Creek.
Residents who receive her treatments report relief from pain, stiffness, and other maladies.
“I like it because I can sleep better,” Esther Miller said. Miller is a resident at Walnut Hills Retirement Home and said she looks forward to the helpful visits by Weatherwax.
Weatherwax said it is not unusual for residents to report such extended advantages to the reflexology treatments.
“Relaxing the hands and feet improves the circulation,” she said. “Consequently, the entire body is relaxed, which is why some people report being able to sleep better.”
Her visits, which are paid for by the facilities and offered to the residents free of charge, are regularly scheduled at each location. She said she visits Majora Lane twice a week, Sycamore Lane weekly, and Walnut Hills every other week. And she does so after completing her daytime shift at Rice-Chadwick, where she has worked for 33 years.
“I am on my feet for eight-hours a day,” Weatherwax said. “So I know how important taking care of your hands and feet is.”
Weatherwax, who is certified to offer the reflexology services, said that before she works on residents, she gives the facilities’ administrators the opportunity to experience her treatments. That way they know exactly what is happening when she is there, she said.
“After my grandparents passed on, I asked God to do something to help me fill the void,” she said. After the third time of having her own hands and feet treated by a reflexology therapist, she realized she could provide the same services.
She said she knew such services were not offered in the area. “People don’t want to handle other people’s feet,” she said. “But I feel called to do it.”
According to the Farber Family Foundation, reflexology is a unique method of using the thumb and fingers on reflex areas in the feet and hands that correspond to all of the glands, organs and part of the body to elicit areas of potential or actual disorder. Pressure applied to the reflex points promotes better blood flow and nerve impulses, along with other physiological benefits.
Weatherwax began at Majora Lane, and then reached out to the other retirement centers. She actually finds the sessions therapeutic herself.
“The therapy works both ways,” Weatherwax said. “I get to listen to them while I work on their hands and feet, and they get to listen to me.”
“You need to be in tune with the person you are working with,” she said. “You have to be compassionate for each situation. If not, you are going to hurt them.”
Weatherwax’s gentle touch, soft-spoken approach and years of experience help provide positive results for many area seniors. That’s what helping hands are meant to do.
This article first appeared in the Holmes Bargain Hunter, Millersburg, Ohio, August 2, 2010.