Care Dimensions: 10 Benefits of Hospice Massage

Voices of Care

10 Benefits of Hospice Massage

Posted on October 22, 2021 by Alison Powers, LMT

Care Dimensions Massage Therapist Alison Powers visits with a patient at the Kaplan Family Hospice House.

Massage therapy for those on hospice is different from massage as most of us know it. A hospice massage therapist’s role is to comfort, not cure, and we provide a safe, intentional touch that honors, validates, respects, and soothes. Even patients who are in a deep coma, semi-comatose, or non-verbal can benefit from comfort touch massage, which is compassionate and a nurturing part of the dying experience.

Here are 10 benefits of hospice massage:

  1. Gently massaging the back, feet, hands or face and head can provide comfort and an opportunity to relax. Even family members and caregivers can provide a soothing touch to help ease discomfort. 
  2. Softly touching a hand can lower blood pressure, stabilize heart rate, and stimulate the release of endorphins (those “feel good, happy” hormones) to help bring physical comfort. 
  3. Hospice massage therapy provides soothing relaxation techniques to help reduce stress from medical treatments and medications. 
  4. Massage can help a patient feel cared for, safe, and “connected”, which can ease anxiety, fear, and depression.
  5. Compassionate touch can offer a chance to reflect, reminisce, tell stories, release feelings or express emotions. 
  6. Massage therapy relaxes the muscles and soft tissue, which improves circulation to organs and muscles and helps the lungs refresh the blood with a new supply of oxygen. This can reduce pain, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
  7. Hospice massage therapy can promote relaxation and loosen the muscles to create a more restful sleep for patients.
  8. Patients receive undivided attention during a hospice massage therapy session, which offers an experience that affects a patient’s entire well-being.
  9. Hospice massage therapists are trained to understand the body and can gain a sense of the patient’s physical and emotional state, even for people who can no longer speak.  We work in harmony with the patient’s hospice care team and family members and can be an advocate for the patient’s care and needs.
  10. Hospice massage therapy is a holistic, non-invasive type of care focused on helping improve the patient’s quality of life in their final days, weeks, or months.  A gentle, thoughtful, safe, and attentive touch can make the world of difference and create an overall sense of peace and comfort.

Working with and providing massage to hospice patients over the years has been and continues to be a rewarding experience and a true blessing for me. I am continually filled with awe and gratitude for this opportunity to serve. It has allowed me to live and work with passion, understand we are all vulnerable, listen beyond words and trust what I hear, and to be a compassionate, loving presence. 

At Care Dimensions, our goal is to provide our patients with care that soothes more than just the physical pains during the end-of-life stages. Massage therapy for hospice patients is just one of the many complementary therapies, supported by community donations, offered to help keep you or your loved one comfortable and at peace on that final journey.

 

Learn about Care Dimensions’ complementary therapies.

About the author
Alison Powers, LMT, has been a massage therapist with Care Dimensions since 2012.

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Since 1978, Care Dimensions has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in more than 95 communities in Eastern Massachusetts.