The Power of Massage Therapy at End-of-Life Care

When most people think of palliative care, their first thought might be of the doctors and nurses overlooking a senior’s life-threatening condition. And while it’s true the best palliative care is spearheaded by these medical professionals; they aren’t the only caregivers involved in this treatment plan.

Dr. Balfour Mount, the Canadian doctor known as the father of palliative care in North America, spent his career establishing a compassionate and holistic approach to this end-of-life service—one that includes a varied range of healthcare professionals.

Massage therapists join the long list of possible experts involved in palliative care, providing physical and emotional support at such a challenging moment in a senior’s life.

Registered Massage Therapists Work with Compassion

According to the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario headquarters in Toronto, registered massage therapists (RMTs) follow a strict code of ethics that aligns with core principles of palliative care: treat clients with respect and compassion.

All RMTs in Toronto, neighbouring Mississauga and Brampton, and the province as a whole follow these best practices to help seniors live comfortably and with dignity as they undergo palliative care. At home care services work with RMTs to ensure all their seniors’ needs are met at end-of-life by prioritizing quality of life with unique treatment plans.

Three Main Benefits of Massage Therapy

At home palliative care for seniors in Mississauga or Toronto includes massage therapy when curative treatment is no longer appropriate. At this point, health care professionals switch gears to focus on their patients’ physical and psychological well-being, preserving seniors’ quality of life.

An RMT customizes their practice and techniques to provide comfort for seniors in the following three ways:

1. Pain Relief

Pain-Relief
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Many people who receive palliative home care in Mississauga are immobile and bed-bound, a painful experience that can cause tension and stiffness. RMTs can help nurses and caregivers treat this pain with the healing power of touch. Massage therapy relieves aches and pains by stimulating nerve fibre and improving circulation for those with life-limiting diseases like cancer, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.

2. Symptom Management

Symptom Management
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A study from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City reveals that cancer patients who received massage therapy during their treatments experienced a decrease in symptom severity of fatigue, nausea, pain, stress/anxiety, and depression. Other studies show massage therapy can also reduce headaches and migraines that may be side effects of medication and treatment plans.

3. Emotional Support

Emotional Support-Massage Therapy
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Palliative care can be an isolating experience that amplifies stress, depression, and other emotional trauma. RMTs can help provide an emotional release for seniors at this stage of treatment by providing a relaxing massage. More importantly, they provide soothing skin-to-skin contact at a time when seniors may feel alone.

The Takeaway:

Palliative care is a holistic medical treatment plan that involves a roster of healthcare professionals. RMTs are an important part of palliative care along with doctors, nurses, and Personal Support Workers. They can help treat pain, reduce other symptoms of life-threatening illnesses, and provide emotional support at such a challenging time in a senior’s life.

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