Providing comfort and care at the end of life is the very foundation of hospice care.

At Arbor Hospice, this pursuit requires taking a holistic approach to each patient’s care plan, recognizing there are powerful non-medical options – what we call integrative therapies – that can help ease the physical and psychological pain and symptoms of terminal illness.

Music THERAPY: Easing Pain. Soothing Anxiety. Maximizing Comfort.

Music therapy is a clinical and evidence-based intervention that uses music to address a variety of care goals.

Board-certified music therapists—an important part of the hospice care team—are trained clinicians who hold bachelors and/or master’s degrees and have completed 1040 hours of internship.

Music therapists carefully select music and rhythms that are part of a patient’s unique life story. Patients of all ages, and often their caregivers, can experience profound benefits including:

  • Decreased anxiety, depression, anger, and fear; and positive changes in mood
  • Distraction from agitation
  • Decreased confusion and disorientation
  • Enhanced memory recall, verbalization, and lucidity
  • Improved communication
  • Grief support


  • Music therapists engage with patients in ways that best suit the patient’s specific needs and preferences
  • Some methods include song selection by the patient; singing, song writing, improvisation, guided imagery, instrument-playing and relaxation techniques
  • Music therapy can be active or passive depending on a patient’s needs
  • Elements of music therapy visits can be taught to family caregivers, providing another way for caregivers to interact with and connect with their loved one
  • Music therapy sessions often take place with family, friends, and caregivers present
  • Music therapy can be beneficial up until a patient’s last few days or hours, as hearing is the last of the senses to be lost

You Are My Sunshine is among the most popular songs used in music therapy sessions, especially for patients with dementia because the song helps trigger memory and enhances mood.

Released in 1939, You Are My Sunshine spans generations, is simple, uplifting and the lyrics are enduring.

Meet our Music Therapists sharing their version of this popular song.

Music Therapy Internship Program

Arbor Hospice offers an extensive music therapy internship program under the supervision of a Master’s Prepared, Board-Certified Music Therapist.

MASSAGE THERAPY: Gentle Touch. Big Impact.

During a time of increased anxiety, agitation and fear, therapeutic touch from one of Arbor Hospice’s board-certified, master’s-prepared massage therapists is a welcome gift of comfort. *

Research shows that therapeutic massage can have measurable impact on a hospice patient’s quality of life, because it addresses both the physical pain and emotional distress that often comes with life-limiting illness.

Massage Helps

Arbor Hospice’s massage therapists utilize techniques designed to ease a patient’s physical pain, restore emotional comfort and:

  • Decrease anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, disorientation, and fear
  • Decrease physical discomfort
  • Reduce nausea
  • Distract from agitation
  • Enhance circulation
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Increase memory recall, verbalization, and lucidity
  • Reduce tension in the muscles and soft tissues
  • Ease muscle and joint pain
  • Improve blood pressure
  • Boost the immune system
  • Promote a sense of peace and well-being

“My patient, a woman in her late 30’s who was suffering from cancer, told me that the only time she was not in pain was during her massages.”

–Arbor Hospice Massage Therapist

*Massage therapy is not yet available in all communities


Whether it is the simplicity of a gentle stroke of the hand or a more traditional form of touch, Arbor Hospice’s board-certified massage therapists work with a patient’s care team to identify an appropriate therapeutic intervention to bring comfort and relaxation.

  • SWEDISH MASSAGE provides deep muscle stimulation and rhythmic movements to enhance relaxation and calmness, stimulate oxygen in tissue, reduce buildup of lactic acid in muscles, and assist in delivering nutrients and removing waste products from tissue.
  • COMFORT TOUCH is a nurturing form of acupressure that gives special consideration to the physical and emotional needs of the hospice patient. Its primary intention is to provide comfort through techniques that promote relief from physical and emotional pain, and it can also enhance the quality of life for anyone in need of a caring touch.
  • REIKI is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation. Administered by the “laying on of hands” Reiki is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us to affect our well-being. As massage therapists apply Reiki, it treats the whole person – mind, body and spirit – to create beneficial effects such as relaxation, pain reduction, and feelings of peace and security.
  • AROMATHERAPY uses natural plant extracts and essential oils to promote well-being. Certain herbs and essences are known to activate areas of the brain to significantly reduce stress, anxiety and depression and promote relaxation.


Comfort From Our Sweetest Companions

Leveraging the natural bond between humans and animals, Arbor Hospice is proud to offer a Pet Visit Program.*

Studies have shown significant health benefits of using animals in patient care. This program, facilitated by volunteers and their pets, provides comfort, soothing companionship, and grief support to terminally ill patients and their loved ones – in their own homes or in senior living facilities.

The Pet Visit Program features the joyful companionship of dogs, cats and other friendly pets.

Therapeutic time with an animal can:

  • Fill a void for patients missing a companion
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Increase levels of endorphins
  • Stabilize intense emotions
  • Improve mood and general well-being

*Pet Visits are available in select communities across Michigan.

About Arbor Hospice’s Pet Companions

All pet companions are “interviewed” by Arbor Hospice to ensure they have a companionable disposition, enjoy being around people, are comfortable with strangers and like being touched. All companion pets must be accompanied by their “humans” –  who have completed Arbor Hospice’s volunteer training program. In addition, all participating pets must be at least 1-year-old and current on vaccinations.

Arbor Hospice is always looking to grow its network of friendly pet visitors. Please contact Alana Knoppow, Volunteer Program Manager at if you and your pet would like to help.