Terminal illness can be a painful process, but massage therapists can help hospice patients cope with those pains in the final stages of their lives.

The time when a hospice patient is facing the end of his or her life can lead to increased anxiety and fear. A massage therapist’s role in this process isn’t to help cure hospice patients, but to help comfort them and make their condition more tolerable.

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.

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

An Internet search resulted in numerous home study courses any massage therapist can take to fulfill their continuing education requirements.

For hospice massage, some courses offered cover such topics as the business of dying, outcomes for the use of touch in palliative care, precautions, guidelines for massage, self-care elements, touch techniques, 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 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, who were usually family members, were questioned about their condition after the treatments.

The research showed 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