Alternative Therapy at the End of Life


Alternative therapy also known as complementary therapy is treatment used alongside traditional medical interventions to achieve greater well-being, comfort and care for patients at the end of life.

Research in the area of massage, music and pet therapy has demonstrated significant benefit including helping better manage symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and minimizing feelings of anxiety, sadness, fear and depression.

Our goal is focused on our patient’s overall comfort by utilizing a variety of alternative therapies:

  • Massage– Touch is a fundamental human need. The power of touch helps communicate an offer of comfort and empathy, especially at the end of life. Our licensed massage therapist specializes in massage which involves caring, safe touch — an invitation to relax.   Massage therapy is proven to provide significant improvement for pain, anxiety and health-related quality of life. It is a nurturing part of the dying experience. When patients are able to relax, pain is lessened and a sense of well-being has a chance to take over, allowing the patient to experience greater peace and ability to cope.
  • Therapeutic Harp– Our certified harp practitioner provides a wide range of live soothing harp music at bedside to assist with deep relaxation and comfort as patients move through their journey on hospice care. As a trained therapeutic musician, she will adapt the style of music being played to help a person find a place of healing and peace.
  • Pet Therapy– There exists a strong bond between animals and people. Animals are accepting, non-threatening and non-judgmental which makes it easier for people to share and express their thoughts and feelings. Pet therapy aids in relieving stress and anxiety while providing comfort to patients. The effects of the pet therapy are measurable, as seen by an increase in the release of “feel-good hormones” such as endorphins while interacting with an animal, like petting a dog. Endorphins are our body’s own chemicals that are released to make you feel good- just like eating a piece of chocolate.
  • Virtual Reality– The use of advanced immersive virtual reality has shown to effectively produce a comforting, anxiety-reducing, distracting intervention for patients experiencing pain and other symptoms. Through the use of a specialized virtual reality headset with pre-installed immersive modules, patients or caregivers can relax with calming escapes  letting you explore new worlds or guide you through relaxation experiences-swim with dolphins, travel to London, Vienna or Ireland, relax your thoughts with mindfulness breathing and relaxation techniques.