While working in an assisted living facility, I noticed the more frail a resident was, the less they were touched. If they were frail and had dementia, they were hardly ever touched. The feeling of a kind hand in ours, or a hug from someone who cares is a basic human need. We don’t outgrow it, even if it’s something we hardly ever had. Touch connects us to one another.
I can remember my mama’s hand on my brow when I was sick. It was always a little moist from washing dishes. That touch made me know how much she cared.
I was such a tomboy and cared little about being clean so once or so a week mama would have me lie on the kitchen counter and wash my head in the sink. Even as a hard-headed kid, I knew this was special treatment.
My childhood memories are quite different from my closest friend’s. Lately she told me her parents rarely held her or gave her a hug. While I sat on my Daddy’s lap until I was a teen, her daddy never held her and “I love yous” were never heard in her home. Honestly, I don’t know how she survived.
Our elders need our touch. For those who aren’t used to be hugged and kissed, you might have to get inventive to give them the touch that truly has healing powers.
Try a Little Pampering
One of our memory care residents loved when Wednesday rolled around. Wednesday’s meant her granddaughter was coming to give her a manicure complete with painted nails. She loved the visit and the sweet conversations they had while her granddaughter would file and clip and polish and finish the job with a good lotion rubbed into her hands.
Even your dad will enjoy a good manicure and he might complain a little, but just insist. My own daddy won’t refuse a good foot rub. He stood on his feet for 50 years cutting hair so a foot rub is the way straight to his heart.
Shoulder rubs, neck messages and even a good head message can make anyone feel loved and pampered. Be gentle with older folks because they’re a little more delicate but it’s worth the trouble when you see how much it lifts their spirits.
Make Hugging a Habit
Hugging is a tradition in our family. Not one grandkid, grown child or parent escapes my hugs before we say goodbye. I love each kiss and every single hug even when slobbers are involved like my one-year-old granddaughter. My kids-in-law are not exempt. They have (perhaps reluctantly) succumbed to my hugs and kisses without complaint.
Touch — a Lasting Connection and Future Fond Memory
You don’t have to take my word for this — touch is known to have physical and mental health benefits. Studies have found that touch reduces stress, brings on feelings of comfort and happiness and can indeed aid in healing. I just know I want everyone I love and care for to remember that I took the time to give them a hug. I know I will always remember the touch of those who’ve loved me long after they are gone.