Local Hospice Massage Therapist Publishes Book

Faith Presbyterian Hospice massage therapist Cindy Spence has released a book about palliative massage to support people with advanced and terminal diseases.

The book, titled Palliative Touch: Massage for People at the End of Life, was written for health care providers, complementary therapists, and those who wish to support a dying client or loved one.

“There is a growing body of literature citing significant improvements in pain and anxiety after as little as 20 minutes of massage,” Spence said. “And, unlike medication, there are no side effects when massage is adapted appropriately by properly trained therapists.”

Spence became interested in massage therapy when her father-in-law was dying of cancer and wanted a massage but Spence couldn’t find a therapist willing to work with him. She completed training in 1999, and although it was too late to help her father-in-law, she became committed to helping as many others as she could.

Spence addresses three benefits of massage for people at the end of life in the book:

  • Comfortable positioning using soft materials to create a sense of support and nesting can help pain scores drop dramatically, even before the massage begins.
  • Palliative massage can relieve distressed skin with the application of quality creams.
  • It can reduce the “fight or flight” sensation that most patients experience while dying.

“We will all have opportunities to comfort dying people with gentle touch,” Spence said. “Some of us will choose these opportunities as professionals. Others will find themselves at the bedside of a dying person not by choice, but by virtue of loving people who will someday die.”

Palliative Touch uses Spence’s two decades of field and inpatient hospice experience to address topics from common end-of-life symptoms and stages of dying to cultural issues and how these can impact end-of-life care.

Spence’s book is available online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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