Weed Wanderings Herbal Medicine with Susun Weed
February 2005
Volume 5 Number 2

    Bookmark and Share        
What's Inside Weed Wanderings this Month...


Anti-Cancer Lifestyle - Providing Comfort through Touch with Mary Kathleen Rose - Weed Wanderings Herbal eZine with Susun Weed
Anti-Cancer Lifestyle ...
Providing Comfort through Touch
Interview with Mary Kathleen Rose
Anti-Cancer Lifestyle - Providing Comfort through Touch with Mary Kathleen Rose - Weed Wanderings Herbal eZine with Susun Weed


Providing Comfort through Touch:
Therapist develops special style of bodywork for sick, elderly

Interview with Mary Kathleen Rose by Debra Melani

What is Comfort Touch?
“It is a style of bodywork that gives special consideration to the physical and emotional needs of the elderly and chronically ill client. Its primary intention is to provide comfort through techniques that promote deep relaxation and relief from pain.”

Why did you decide there was a need?
“A lot of the techniques that are most commonly used in the massage profession, such as Swedish and neuromuscular massage, are actually not advisable for use with the elderly or the ill. They can cause damage to tissue. They are too invasive.”

How did you develop it?
“I looked at what I was doing intuitively, and then also talked with other people who had been doing massage with hospice. It’s very much been a process of many people’s feedback, including from families and nurses who have observed the benefits of massage.” Comfort Touch is part of a number of what the hospice calls comfort care measures, she said. “That’s really what the hospice approach is about: What can we do to make the patient comfortable?”

Why is it so important to the dying?
“I think touch is a basic human need, and a lot of times, when people are very sick, people around them are afraid to touch them. I’ve seen this when I’m with patients and their families. Sometimes when we touch a patient, they are so grateful for the comfort of that human connection.” Rose said she believes massage has a very calming effect on the nervous system, which also can help ease the pain.

And why is it important for the elderly?
I train many people who work in nursing homes. It’s a growing population. And in our culture, as they grow older, they tend to be more isolated. So just the feeling of being touched lets them know that they’re important.”

What types of unusual challenges does the therapist who is offering this type of massage face?
“One would be just a need for different techniques, the need to adapt techniques to make it safe and appropriate. The second thing would be adapting to the physical situation.” Rose said when working with ill or elderly patients, the therapist does not have the advantage of a massage table at optimal height, for instance. Therapists might have to work on a patient in a wheelchair or a hospital bed. Their working space might be awkward and cramped. “So we have to adjust our body mechanics,” she said. “The third challenge would be dealing with the emotional issues. When you are with someone who is sick, does that make you afraid of being sick? When you are with someone who is old, does that bring up your own fears about aging and disability?” Rose said therapists must learn to deal with the feelings and connect with the patient, which leads to personal growth. “You do come face to face with your own fear.”

Can communication be trying?
“Sometimes people can’t talk, or they’re semi-comatose, and so the therapist then needs to be really sensitive.” But she advises her students to still touch. “The experience of touch is very profound whether people can communicate verbally or not.” Rose said she has noticed a change in breathing and muscle relaxation in comatose patients.

“This sort of goes back to part of my commitment to this field. I was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes in 1985, just a couple of months after I graduated from massage school. I was in the emergency room in a diabetic coma and unable to talk. But I was very aware.” Rose said a caring nurse quelled her fears. “When someone touched me, I knew I was going to be OK. That really stayed with me.”

Rose said it has since been a part of her mission to let those in the medical profession know the value of touch. “When you touch someone with the intention to offer comfort, and to offer support, it does make a difference.”

Do Comfort Touch therapists generally go over special precautions with health-care professional before working on a patient?
“They get information on the person’s condition before they begin. For example, if there is a tumor in a certain part of the body, they would avoid that area. Or, if there’s a particular pain, they would emphasize working on that area.”

You have written a booklet on bereavement. Why is that important here?
It’s really a concise booklet talking about what constitutes a loss, which can be divorce, residential moves, separations, job loss and any life changes. So it is just to help others recognize that people grieve for a lot of different reasons.” Rose said it is important for massage therapists to understand the cycle of grief. “A lot of times, people come to you for massage because they are going through a loss.”

What about dealing with your own emotions; how does spending your day giving comfort to the dying affect you, knowing that that patient might not be there tomorrow?
“I thing that part of it for me is trust in the process. One of the things that I love about hospice is that death is not seen as failure. Death is part of life, and what we really do is support people to go through their dying process in a way that respects them as a living, breathing person. It’s really about quality of life. I think in our culture, we fight death and resist it and therefor make it more painful.”

. Mary Kathleen Rose has produced a video Comfort Touch Massage for the Elderly and the Ill, and is the author of Bereavement: Dealing with Grief and Loss.

Reprinted with permission of Daily Camera ©2000. Boulder, Colorado


This beautifully produced video introduces the viewer to the principles and techniques of Comfort Touch, a nurturing form of acupressure massage designed to be safe and appropriate for the elderly and the ill. Drawing on her many years of experience practicing and teaching this work in home-care and medical settings, Mary Kathleen Rose shares the essential elements of Comfort Touch with demonstrations of its applications in the seated, supine and side-lying positions.

This program will inspire the viewer - whether healthcare professional or family caregiver - to offer the benefits of touch to those for whom conventional massage may cause discomfort or even injury. While Comfort Touch provides soothing relief for the elderly and the ill, it can enhance the quality of life for anyone in need of a caring touch.

Includes 40-page Video Guide, complete with Principles and Techniques of Comfort Touch, Benefits of Comfort Touch, Precautions in the Use of Touch and Self-Care Exercises for the Caregiver. Yours for $29.00 plus shipping.

To read another article click on the titles below

Can Breast Cancer be Prevented? by Susun Weed
Mammograms, Who Needs Them? by Susun Weed
7 Directions Movement Meditation by Whitefeather
Eight Steps for a Woman Dancing with Cancer by Susun Weed
Using Herbs Simply & Safely by Susun Weed


Weed Wanderings herbal ezine is sponsored by www.susunweed.com and www.wisewomanbookshop.com

Breast Health Website Breast Cancer Prevention by Susun Weed

©Susun Weed -Wise Woman Center
~ Disclaimer & Privacy Policy ~