Promoting a patient’s physical comfort is a top priority for the Hebrew SeniorLife Hospice Care Team. The most common and familiar choice for treatment is medication to reduce pain. However, our Hospice Team understands that a full range of emotional responses to life-threatening illness may contribute to physical suffering such as anxiety, loneliness, fear and confusion.
Research has shown and clinicians recognize that certain non-medical modalities can complement western medicine when it comes to treating pain. Sometimes the introduction of music or gentle massage may enhance the effect of a medicine so doses can be reduced. Often, a complementary therapy is helpful simply because it is offered by a caring, sensitive practitioner who is trained to recognize what is in the person’s heart or mind at the moment of treatment.
Reflecting our commitment to take that extra step in patient care, we include professionals who work with our Team to bring a variety of complementary therapies to our patients, among them:
The release of muscle tension through gentle massage contributes to the reduction of physical pain. Patients may experience a sense of calm that comes from gentle physical contact—a sense of being nurtured and well taken care of at a difficult time in the patient’s life.
Often when words and even gestures are ineffective, melody and song can touch a patient’s mind and heart. Familiar songs or music from synagogue, church or a patient’s cultural background can rekindle a sense of community and spiritual connection. And often, music can pierce dementia-related memory loss and speech, triggering deep rooted sensory memories that can reduce anxiety and depression.
The use of specific essential oils, guided by knowledgeable caregivers can promote a sense of psychological or physical wellbeing. As with music, familiar aromas may evoke memories of pleasant past experiences and lift the spirit. Present in a bath or compress, inhaled, used in conjunction with a massage, or diffused in the atmosphere, aromatherapy may be helpful in achieving specific therapeutic goals or contribute, more generally, to well-being.
Mindfulness of breathing patterns and body dynamics may help patients release muscle tension that contributes to pain. Guided Meditation encourages a focus on pleasant images and memories that eclipse fear and anxiety and stimulate a sense of well-being.
An ancient non-invasive technique (Japanese in origin), Reiki is a gentle touch technique that reduces stress through the practitioner’s hand placement. Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind and spirit creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and wellbeing. Reiki relies on the theory that a relationship of spiritual intimacy between giver and receiver carries healing power.