How to Give a Hand Massage

handsA gentle hand massage can be very relaxing for those who are ill. Follow these step-by-step instructions with the patient or your loved one.

  • Let your body relax.
  • Put a very small amount of hand lotion on your partner’s hand. Take your partner’s available hand and place it in the palm of your own left hand, palm up. Now, make a fist with your right hand and begin to massage the palm with your knuckles–very gently.
  • Rotate your knuckles in small circles about an inch wide. Press down gently but firmly. Move over the whole palm of your partner’s hand.
  • Now move back over the palm again, but this time use the tips of your thumbs. Have your fingers hold the back of the hand. Then press hard with your thumbs. Move them around also in small circles.
  • Turn the hand over. Work the entire back of the hand with the tips of your thumbs. Then move on an inch or two up onto the wrist. Do you feel the tiny bones in your partner’s hand as you move up onto the wrist?
  • Shift now and hold your partner’s hand palm down in your own left hand. Look at the back of your partner’s hand. See the small raised cords? They’re just under the skin. They start at the base of the wrist and run to the first knuckles of the fingers. These are the tendons that move the fingers up and down.
  • Now slowly run the tip of your thumb down the “valleys” formed by these tendons. Go from the base of the wrist to the small skin flap between the fingers.
  • Use enough pressure so your partner can feel each “valley” distinctively. Go over each “valley” one time.
  • Each time your thumb reaches the small flap of skin between two fingers, press the underside of the flap with the tip of your forefinger as your thumb presses from above. Gently pinch your thumb and forefinger together as you finish your stroking and slide them off the hand.
  • Now do the fingers. Hold your partner’s hand palm down in your own left hand. Taking your thumb and forefinger grasp your partner’s thumb right at the place where it joins with the rest of the hand.
  • Slide your thumb and forefinger slowly from the base to the top of the thumb. Twist your hand from side to side in a corkscrew-like motion while you’re doing it. Pull a bit as you go. End each motion by gently sliding your thumb and finger right off the tip of your partner’s thumb.
  • Gently do the same thing for each finger.
  • And now for the finishing touches. Take a moment and hold your partner’s hand between both of your own. Try to make contact with as much of the surface of your partner’s hand as you possibly can. Without speaking, slowly, very slowly let loose of your partner’s hand. Relax without speaking for a few seconds.
  • Now change hands and repeat the whole process.

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
In 1981, Hospice of the Red River Valley was founded on the belief that everyone deserves access to high-quality end-of-life care. We fulfill our nonprofit mission by providing medical, emotional, personal and spiritual care, as well as grief support to our patients, their families and caregivers during a tender time in life. Our staff helps those we serve experience more meaningful moments through exceptional hospice care, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, wherever a patient calls home. The organization serves more than 40,000 square miles in North Dakota and Minnesota, including in and around Bismarck, Detroit Lakes, Devils Lake, Fargo, Fergus Falls, Grand Forks, Lisbon, Thief River Falls, Valley City and many more communities. Hospice of the Red River Valley offers round-the-clock availability via phone, prompt response times and same-day admissions, including evenings, weekends and holidays. Contact us anytime at 800-237-4629 or


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