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Hospice Massage Therapy

Physical Therapy for Caucasian senior varicosis legsTouch strengthens connections, heals minds, and soothes bodies. It’s a fundamental human experience that begins at birth and continues throughout life.  We need touch. We benefit from the emotional and physical comfort it provides. [Read more about spiritual support here.]

Massage therapy for hospice patients employs the power of touch through therapeutic massage techniques, and compliments our hospice care program that tends to the whole person — physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.

The Benefits of Massage Therapy in Hospice Care

There are many benefits to hospice massage therapy. Therapeutic massage is non-invasive and has a proven track record of easing illness-related symptoms and/or stress often associated with end of life.

Hospice massage was once distrusted, but now helps thousands die comfortably. Read this informative article about the history of massage therapy and how it benefits hospice patients >>

Therapeutic massage can ease tension, stiffness, and pain in hospice patients. It can also increase blood flow to sore, stiff joints and muscles. Massage can be comfortably received by your loved one or patient in a hospital bed, chair, recliner or wheelchair while fully or partially clothed.

Massage can reduce restlessness and anxiety. Massage is relaxing. It lowers blood pressure and eases your heart rate. When the body is under stress it produces unhealthy levels of cortisol, a well-known stress hormone. Massage decreases cortisol levels. Studies have shown massage triggers the release of “feel good” hormones that induce a sense of overall relaxation, calmness, and contentment that can temporarily make the brain forget about other aches.

Hospice massage increases circulation. When you don’t move or use your muscles, as with some hospice patients, your blood flow to your extremities lessens. The lack of blood flow can cause you to feel “cold” and decrease your ability to use your legs, arms, and feet, especially if a patient is bed bound. Massage therapy for hospice patients encourages blood flow and oxygen to those extremities, often increasing a sense of warmth and awareness.

Massage helps reduce the discomfort of edema (swelling). Edema happens when your small blood vessels release fluid into nearby tissues. This fluid causes puffiness and stretched or shiny skin that may have a sensation of tautness in the surrounding area. Clothing can feel tight and uncomfortable and it becomes harder to move any joints that are affected. Hospice massage therapy techniques may help stimulate drainage of this excess fluid and ease the discomfort of the swelling.

Other Benefits of Massage Therapy

Improves Quality of Life

  • Production of the stress hormone, Cortisol, is shut off in the brain.
  • Neuro “feel good” hormones are then released within 20 minutes of massage therapy.

OXYTOCIN The “Love” Hormone!

  • Supports Feelings of Attachment; Reduces Anxiety & Stress
  • Those low in serotonin often suffer from depression and exhibit poor social functioning.

DOPAMINE influences behavior and physical function

  • Benefits Sleep, Mood, Heart Rate, Attention, Pain Processing, Movement
  • Those lacking in dopamine will likely exhibit clumsiness, poor focus, and be easily distracted.

SERATONIN reduces irritability

  • Improves Mood, Appetite, Sleep, Memory
  • Those low in serotonin often have difficulty sleeping and tend to suffer from depression.

Massage therapy is not appropriate for people who have an active virus or infection or local to area of a blood clot, wounds, or lymphedema.


Senior receiving massage theraoyRead Betty Lou’s Story

To help her live more comfortably, Betty Lou’s nurse, Robin Black, RN, added visits from Samaritan’s licensed massage therapist to her plan of care. Amy Goonewardene, LMT, provides gentle therapeutic massage that encourages the natural drainage of the lymph fluids causing her swelling.

A hospice patient can receive massage therapy while in a hospital bed, wheelchair, recliner, or upright chair. Massage may include gentle stroking, kneading, and light pressure on your hands, feet, legs, or arms.

Each visit is tailored to the needs of the patient to ensure massage therapy is a pivotal experience.

If you’re interested in receiving a massage therapy visit as part of your hospice care, please talk to your hospice nurse.

About Our Hospice Massage Therapy Practitioners

Amy Goonewardene, Samaritan Hospice Massage TherapistAmy Goonewardene, LMT, received her massage therapy degree from The Body Therapy Institute in Siler City, NC and a bachelor of science degree from Rowan University. She is also licensed by the State of New Jersey. She started working at Samaritan in 2012 and has more than sixteen years of experience in the massage therapy field. She has certifications in hospice, medical, and cancer massage modalities. In her spare time, Amy enjoys spending time with friends and family, going to the beach, and traveling around the world.






Karen Pericles, Samaritan Hospice Massage TherapistKaren Pericles, LMT, received her massage certificate from Southeastern School of Neuromuscular and Swedish Massage, Columbia, SC, and a bachelor of science degree from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.  Karen is also licensed by the State of New Jersey. She started working at Samaritan in 2005 and has more than sixteen years of experience in the massage therapy field. She has certifications in geriatric massage, massage for Parkinson’s, stroke, cancer, and hospice patients, manual lymphatic drainage massage, and healing touch. In her spare time she enjoys singing, bible study, and playing with her standard poodles.





Support Massage Therapy for Hospice Patients

Though not required or covered by Medicare, Medicaid and many private insurers, the services of Samaritan Hospice’s massage therapists are made possible through generous donations to Samaritan.

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