Hospice patients facing terminal illness often endure considerable pain that can be reduced through massage therapy. Trained massage therapists can help these patients cope with their physical pain, ease their anxiety and reduce their fear in the final stages of their life.

By learning the benefits and techniques of massage on hospice patients in the privacy of your home or office through home-study courses, massage therapists can easily implement these tools into their practice.

An Internet search revealed numerous home-study courses available for any massage therapist to take to fulfill his or her continuing education requirements. The role of a massage therapist’s in this process isn’t to help cure a hospice patient, but to help comfort him and make his condition more tolerable.

Some benefits of massage on hospice patients include relaxing tight muscles, reducing joint stiffness, reducing anxiety, improving circulation, preventing bed sores and aiding in pain management.

For hospice massage, some of the courses offered cover such topics as the outcomes for the use of touch in palliative care, the business of dying, touch techniques, precautions, guidelines for massage, self-care elements, body mechanics, side positioning, importance of confidentiality, working in a client’s home and the emotional impact of working with hospice patients.

Recent studies have shown hospice massage can significantly and positively affect patients receiving end-of-life care. The study, “Three Lessons From a Randomized Trial of Massage and Meditation at End of Life: Patient Benefit, Outcome Measure Selection, and Design of Trials With Terminally Ill Patients,” monitored 108 hospice patients with an average age of 74 years old. Massages were conducted twice a week, and patients and their study partners, which were usually family members, were questioned about their condition after the treatments.

The research showed the patients and their study partners received significantly greater benefit if the patients were assigned to their preferred treatment and reported a higher quality of life at the end of the study.

Make sure to check with your national and state licensing bodies to make sure the courses you select are acceptable for continuing education credits.

–Jeremy Maready

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