Massage therapy can provide comfort, relaxation and the assurance of human touch at a time of increased anxiety and fear for hospice patients. Many who receive massage therapy at end of life experience a decrease in emotional distress, anxiety, physical discomfort, nausea and muscle tension. In addition, massage treatments can lead to improvements in circulation, which aids digestion and helps prevent pressure sores. Massage therapy helps restore emotional balance and improve quality of life.

Swedish massage provides deep muscle stimulation and rhythmic movements to enhance relaxation and calmness. It also can stimulate oxygen in tissue, reduce buildup of lactic acid in muscles, and assist in delivering nutrients and removing waste products from tissue. Depending on the patient’s needs and preferences, therapists can apply massage with the patient lying in a supported, side position; reclined in a chair; or sitting in their wheelchair.

Reflexology is the practice of applying pressure to the feet and hands using specific thumb, feet and hand techniques to induce a physical change in the body. Studies have shown that reflexology creates relaxation, reduces pain, enhances medical treatments and improves mental health. Reflexology also has been proven to ease the pain, nausea and anxiety of chemotherapy patients.

Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by the “laying on of hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and affects our well-being. As massage therapists apply Reiki, it treats the whole person, including body, mind and spirit to create many beneficial effects, such as relaxation, pain reduction, and feelings of peace and security.