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Massage Therapy & Reiki

Benefits of Massage Therapy & Reiki for Hospice Patients

hand massage, hospice touch

Licensed Massage Therapy and Reiki Therapy are among the professional healthcare services available through Tomah Health’s Hospice Touch program. Massage Therapy and Reiki round out our holistic approach to end-of-life care. We provide care to the individual’s mind, body, and spirit. These hands-on techniques are provided wherever the patient resides, and these services can be added or removed anytime.

Massage Therapy and Reiki provide several valuable benefits for Hospice patients, including reducing pain, facilitating relaxation, improving sleep, and reducing anxiety, to name a few. The primary goal is that the patient feels safe and comfortable. Medical therapies used to treat disease or relieve pain prior to entering Hospice often take a toll on Hospice patients. Hands-on therapies, such as Massage and Reiki, are gentle ways to address some of that stress.

Hospice massage looks very different from traditional Massage Therapy. Many patients who enter Hospice are already in a fragile, vulnerable state where traditional Massage Therapy is no longer appropriate. With Hospice massage, pain reduction, and emotional peace can be achieved with soft pressures and slow, gentle kneading. Also, Reiki, which is lightly placing hands on or near the body without using pressure, is very effective in the Hospice setting. Reiki is especially relaxing, which allows the mind to rest.

Additional techniques may include mindful breath, essential oils, and meditation/visualization. Massage Therapy and Reiki can be performed in various settings, including a standard chair/bed, recliner, or hospital bed. Depending on their preference, patients can be dressed in street clothes or pajamas. If the patient sleeps frequently, that’s okay, too. The Massage Therapist will awaken the patient enough to get permission for the session and ask about any present pain.

The benefits of Massage Therapy and Reiki are observable and measurable. Several studies conclude touch therapy is a vital piece in health and well-being. A 2014 study on integrating Massage Therapy in Palliative Care settings found statistically significant reductions in pain, anxiety, relaxation, and inner peace for patients. Massage Therapy decreases pain intensity and anxiety, and patients experience a relaxation response. This relaxed state creates a space for the patient to release anxiety, improve sleep, and support the ability to be in the present moment.

This type of relaxation helps patients find the inner strength to cope with what lies ahead. For patients nearing the end of life who are experiencing loneliness, fear, or depression, the undivided attention of Massage Therapy is soothing. Massage Therapists are one of the many Hospice team members serving the patient by making each day comfortable and contributing to feelings of being loved and cared for as a person.

Mitchinson, Allison, et al. “Integrating Massage Therapy within the Palliative Care of Veterans with Advanced Illnesses.” American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine®, vol. 31, no. 1, 18 Feb. 2013, pp. 6–12, Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

Staff, Sleep Review. “Massage Therapy for a Better Night’s Sleep.” Sleep Review, 23 May 2014, Accessed 20 Nov. 2023.

Tomah Health