End of Life Care: Sound Therapy for Hospice Patients

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Facing the Inevitable

Once family members overcome their disbelief, shock, and anger about the pending end of life for their loved one, they often seek opportunities to demonstrate caring, to eliminate stress, and provide a peaceful environment. Focus becomes seeking ways to express love, and listening and intervening for patient comfort, while fighting feelings of denial, grief and depression. Controlling sounds in a hospice room can be an important ingredient for peace, comfort, and harmony for both the patient and the family.

Sound therapy is one way of balancing sound waves and frequencies in the external environment with the internal waves and frequencies of the human body. Use of soothing sounds promotes peace and harmony in an atmosphere often full of distress and pain.

Family Feelings
Unexpected sudden death creates its own trauma for all involved. The physical reality of loss follows quickly with funeral processions and gravesite goodbyes. The loved one is out of sight. The door has been closed. A family in a hospice environment, however, becomes involved in facing a diagnosis of shortened life expectancy for their loved one that could range anywhere from three to six weeks.

If one could identify any advantages between the two situations, it might be that the grief process begins immediately in sudden death situations. In the hospice environment, however, there is a sense of unrealistic hope gradually followed by feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. There can also be feeling of wanting to do something “for” the patients-something more than sitting and waiting for the end. Sound therapy offers a proactive way to involve the family in the end of life experience.

Patient Intervention

Comfort, and Support
Sounds can affect patients both emotionally and physically. Distractions from extraneous noise can be a source of stress and diminishes comfort, creating restlessness and discontent. Appropriate sound therapy promotes and rejuvenates brainwaves, thereby promoting relaxation and comfort. Proper use of sound therapy can create positive balance and promote harmony to internal organs using external instruments, strategies and tools. A deliberate selection and control of a variety sounds can assist in encouraging better sleep, promoting reduction of physical pain, relaxing the atmosphere from stress, and comforting the patient through the end of life process.

Because our bodies are composed of a series of waves and frequencies, we respond to sound at different levels of comfort depending on the type of sounds. Sound therapy, therefore, can provide an enormous benefit to hospice patients and their families. In an environment in which a variety of physical and emotional situations can affect balance and harmony, introduction of sound therapy becomes a beneficial tool no matter the age of the patient or family member. In an atmosphere where lack of control of inevitable death is ever present, sound therapy allows both patient and family members to temporarily control their environment.

Sound therapy can help eliminate mental stress and worry while easing physical tension, shock, and anger over situations that cannot be controlled.
Specifically, sound therapy:
Reduces stress.
Relieves anxiety.
Encourages calm, comforting thoughts.
Provides physical relaxation.
Encourages better sleep.

How Can You Provide Sound Therapy Balance for Hospice Patient?
It is important to monitor and adjust the patient’s room atmosphere. This can be accomplished using such instruments as soothing sound machines and relaxing music. The volume and sound selections are easy to control and help set the tone for the room.

Visitors should also avoid overuse of television as the noise from commercials can negatively affect the atmosphere in the patient’s room and has been proven to affect body functions and create mental discord.

Family members, who are directly involved in patient care, can be a positive source of harmony and comfort by dealing with causes of patient distress during a traumatic time. Proactive involvement in a hospice environment can also help individual members bring closure, having participated in an end of life process.

Theresa V. Wilson, M.Ed. is a freelance writer and owner of a home based business dedicated to providing products and resources for grieving families and caregivers facing health recovery and crisis related issues. Her Grief and Health support sites are www.meetingtheneeds.org and www.renewingyourhealth.org.

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