Friday, April 29, 2011

Massage Therapy in Hospice and Palliative Care (Research, Video 3:35)

When I reached over and held my hospice patient’s hand, she smiled saying, “Now, that’s nice.” This simple meeting of skin and energy represented her treasure for the day, week, month, or whatever amount of time had passed since her last encounter with physical affection from another human being. For many patients in nursing homes, these moments seldom came.

Although little research on the use of touch with older adults has been done, it is obvious that touching can be a positive form of communication. But touch can do so much more. When used during massage therapy with older adults, particularly those receiving hospice-palliative care, touching can improve their quality of life significantly on several levels. The Gerontology Department at the University of Kentucky compared self-reported health outcome scores among older adults regarding their use of massage therapy. Those who reported massage therapy usage in the past year had significantly better health outcome scores in the following domains:

1)  Emotional well-being 
2)  Limitations due to physical issues  
3)  Limitations due to emotional issues

These research results reinforce the beneficial role massage can play in hospice-palliative care.

This video from Everflowing showcases a touch exercise during a hospice caregivers’ training workshop. Irene Smith, who believes the healing of touch is reciprocal, narrates “The Language of Touch.” 

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers in America and other countries and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.

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