Touch is the very first sense we acquire, and it can often be taken for granted. Its healing power is immense, and studies have shown that there are healthful benefits for patients receiving Palliative Care in nonverbal communication such as a squeeze of the hand, a gentle hug, or various forms of skin-to-skin contact.

Massage therapy originated in ancient China, and has been practiced for thousands of years to ease physical and mental stress. It is suggested that touch releases hormones in the body and it creates a sense of emotional connection.

The healing and health benefits of massage therapy are numerous, and for those in Palliative Care, it provides a unique sense of comfort that is unlike any other type of therapy, particularly if a patient experiences painful symptoms from illnesses or treatments such as Chemotherapy.

When curative treatment is no longer appropriate, the significance is placed on measuring comfort for patients, and touch is an excellent way to facilitate communication and enhance physical and psychological well-being.

At Integracare, we have highly trained and certified Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) who specialize in working with Clients in palliative care among other home care services in Toronto. Our compassionate RMTs customize their practice and techniques to each Client’s specific state of health and current symptoms, such as providing options to those who are unable to lie face-down in a traditional position and using reduced pressure in their massage strokes.

If a loved one or family member receives palliative care, consider the benefits of adding in-home massage therapy to their treatment plan.

Massage Therapy Reduces Pain

Palliative Care is recommended to help alleviate pain and stress during treatment for any of the following illnesses:

  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related illnesses
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Kidney Failure
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • ALS and Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Arthritis

Pain is a common symptom in all of these illnesses, in some form or another. Illnesses such as Lou Gehrig’s or ALS cause patients to experience severe muscle weakness and atrophy all over the body.

But with the healing touch of an experienced RMT, patients who suffer from mobility issues experience improved nerve functions and circulations where immobility would otherwise cause joint rigidness, shortened muscles, and degeneration.

One of the most common chronic conditions among senior citizens is Arthritis. It can affect literally any part of the body, including fingers, knees, hips — and it causes swelling, stiffness, and pain.

With regular massage, Arthritis patients experience reduced pain and their physical function improves. Those who feel the condition in hands and fingers will find an improved ability to control movements with massage therapy.

Patients with Alzheimer’s can also benefit from the healing power of massage. Studies have shown it greatly reduces agitation among those living with Alzheimer’s Disease. In particular, hand massage aids in relaxation, and it consistently decreases responsive behaviours.

Massage Therapy Reduces Migraines, Headaches, and Nausea

Massage in Palliative Care

Treatments that are paired with the illnesses listed above can induce debilitating side effects such as nausea, headaches, and migraines.

Much research has been done over the last several years investigating the relationship between massage therapy and migraine pain. Recently, a small study  concluded that regular massage, focusing on the neck, significantly reduced the pain intensity of migraines.

Half of the participants received regular massage therapy, and 71% asserted that there was a great reduction in the severity of their headache pain.

There have also been recent studies that show massage therapy greatly reduces the most common and unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy: nausea and vomiting. Because of the comfort massage therapy brings, it has gained a lot of attention from medical experts within the last few years.

Take a look at this scientific study that came out in 2013 — the researchers concluded that massage therapy should be an integral part of cancer patients’ treatment plans alongside chemotherapy because of its substantial pain-relieving side effects.  Massage Therapy can help those receiving chemotherapy with the discomfort and exhaustion of the treatment, and it also provides patients with the soothing sensation of touch.

While in palliative care, your loved one deserves empathy and compassion, and our RMTs not only provide these through companionship, they also provide gentle massage that alleviates pain.

Massage Therapy Reduces Symptoms of Emotional Stress

It is not always easy for an individual to hear the term “palliative care,” and it can feel overwhelming and even frightening for some people. Life-threatening illnesses cause physical debilitations, but they can also trigger devastating emotional and mental issues.

It is common for Seniors to experience isolation, especially if a life-threatening illness is a factor. Feelings of depression and sadness are triggered when individuals are in chronic pain or are perhaps within their last few years of life.

Integracare’s palliative care team is trained to be sympathetic and empathetic to these undeniable concerns, and we make sure to ask about any emotional concerns to be addressed before any treatment.

When our RMTs provide in-home massage therapy, we make it a priority to ask you and your family member about mental health issues, so they can work on alleviating any stress through their massage practice.

Stress can have detrimental effects on the body from sleep deprivation and depression to appetite loss to physical aches and pains. Having a life-threatening illness is stressful, and there is no doubt that it can take a toll on the body.

When stressed, anxious, or depressed, our muscles tend to become stiff and rigid, which causes discomfort and pain.

Massage Therapy helps to relieve tension in muscles and connective tissues. Massage Therapy promotes relaxation in the body by increasing blood flow. When our bodies relax while tension and strain dissipate, we begin to feel calmer and more comfortable.

Of course, Massage Therapy cannot cure symptoms of stress entirely, but it certainly makes life a lot more enjoyable.

Regular visits from our certified RMTs to you or your loved one’s home also provides an opportunity for your loved one to socialize. Real and sincere connections develop between our Caregivers and Clients, and our goal is for Clients to feel excited about their massage appointments — something to look forward to.

We hire skilled professionals with years of experience, and we also only hire individuals who possess compassion and respect, and who are flexible, dependable, and professional. Our Palliative Care RMTs’ approach to massage is a gentle one, and they pay attention to Clients’ needs by listening to them with empathy and kindness.

Sometimes we forget how important touch is — a simple embrace from a loved one can alter your mood in an instant.

For those in palliative care who may experience loneliness, physical pain, or stress, the benefits of Massage Therapy are numerous. Massage Therapy may not have the power to cure an illness, but the amount of freedom and joy it provides in patients from alleviating physical and emotional pains make it a crucial aspect of any palliative care plan.

If you have a family member or loved one in Palliative Care who might benefit from Massage Therapy, read more to learn about the myriad of health benefits involved.