Hands that Nurture: the Power of Touch.
By Dana Lusk
Consider the power of touch.It’s no secret that touch is an affirmative, healing force. Holding hands, a back rub, hugs—all have the effect of decreasing stress and increasing good feelings. From the time we’re born, we seek out social situations that will fulfill our need for positive touch.
In fact, we may often take for granted the power of touch; having physical contact with others that promotes our overall sense of well-being. When we have family and friends around us and enjoy their company and physical contact, we simply don’t think about the positive effects of touch.
What happens when family and friends are no longer a part of our daily lives? What happens when a woman or man is suddenly alone when a spouse passes away after 50 or 60 years of marriage? Grown children and grandchildren may not live close by or may not be available to visit daily. Contact with friends and peers may not be feasible as peers may have also passed away, moved away, or may not be able to visit regularly as they may be somewhat isolated themselves.
Most often, when we think of the negative effects of isolation, we focus on the lack of social opportunities that enhance mental stimulation. But isolation also means lack of positive touch and the power of touch – failing to consider all the benefits that physical stimulation can bring.
How can you ensure that your loved ones continue to receive the advantages of touch when you can’t be there as often as you’d like? Consider the suggestions below to supplement positive touch experiences for your loved ones.
- Don’t underestimate the value of a pet in generating that power of touch. If your loved one is an animal lover and is able to care for a pet, pets can allow your loved one to enjoy the sensation of touch on a regular basis.
- Enlist the help of neighbors if possible. Maybe your loved one lives in a neighborhood where parents would be appreciative of someone helping out occasionally with their young children. If your loved one is able to serve as a surrogate grandparent, not only will the child’s parents be grateful for the loving contact the child can have, but your loved one will also benefit from a child’s companionship and loving hugs and kisses.
- Schedule a spa day. If your time is limited when you do visit your loved one because of a hectic, stressful schedule, consider taking time to share a “spa day” with your loved one. Of course, a “spa day” doesn’t need to be a full day and doesn’t need to be expensive, but taking time to share a manicure, pedicure, facial, or other spa experience can be relaxing for both of you—and can provide a positive touch experience for your loved one as well.
- Consider hiring a companion. If your loved one has physical or cognitive challenges that might prevent him or her from having a pet or offering to care for a child occasionally, you still want to ensure the benefits of touch. A private duty home care service can provide a caregiver to be a companion for your loved one. Caregivers can help with daily activities, but can also play an integral role in giving positive touch through holding a hand, rubbing your loved one’s shoulders, and hugging your loved one.
When looking for options to keep your loved ones safe and healthy, don’t overlook their basic need for positive interaction and contact with others. The true power of touch? The world is a better place for all of us with more hugs.