There are many health benefits associated with human touch. Research conducted by the University of Miami's Touch Research Institute demonstrated that being touched can:
- Lessen pain
- Lower blood glucose
- Slow the heart rate
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve pulmonary function
- Improve immune function
- Increase growth in infants
Touch is the major form of communication for infants. As they grow they receive less touch. Adults touch even less, and according to the study, “senior citizens receive the least touching of any age group.”
After losing a spouse, many seniors live alone. It may be years since they have been touched or hugged. A friend who had his elderly mother living with him realized this, and began to play with her hair and give her foot rubs. Her demeanor changed dramatically and his wife was able to cope easier with their living situation.
For too many seniors, the only time someone really looks at them and touches them is in the doctor’s office. Here are some ideas for making human touch part of your loved one's life:
- Give a gift of massage at a nearby spa.
- Comb your loved one’s hair.
- Give a foot rub, or apply lotion to calloused feet.
- Hug and kiss freely.
- Hold hands.
- An occasional pat on the back can make someone feel wonderful.
You may not notice any change in the beginning, but little by little you are bringing the beautiful gift of human touch to someone who misses it dearly.
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