The importance of the human touch is often forgotten when it comes to seniors. Caregivers can make a difference in the quality of life by making the sense of touch an important part of everyday life.
Why Do Seniors Have Less Human Touching?
- Partners are Overwhelmed as Caregivers – Many times a senior’s partner will be put into the position as a full-time, family caregiver; which can be very overwhelming. Focusing on the task of caregiving and keeping their loved one safe and well cared for, taking the time to stop and be physical with them in a tender and caring manner simply doesn’t come to mind.
- Partners are Deceased – Part of aging can often include losing a lifetime partner whom you typically hugged and kissed daily. While the sense of touch doesn’t necessarily have to mean “intimacy” these small gestures of a peck on the cheek or the gentle rubbing of your partner’s hand disappear as you live life as a single senior.
- Alzheimer’s or Dementia – In some cases, when a person has dementia their senses can become over stimulated easily. Because of this people tend to remain less physical with them; which can mean little to no touching out of fear of an outburst.
- Depression – Senior depression is common and because of depression many seniors become withdrawn from social functions and activities. Being less social means less contact with people and thereby less stimulation of the sense of touch.
How Can Caregivers Encourage the Sense of Touch?
The sense of touch can become a part of everyday life for seniors with minimal effort; making a difference in their quality of life.
- Hygiene Care – During non-intimate personal hygiene care, such as washing the senior’s hair, taking a little extra time to massage the head or lightly brushing their hair encourages the sense of touch. Adding a little moisturizer to their hands or face can also encourage this much needed sense.
- Back Rubs – If your senior has had a long and eventful day, it’s a wonderful feeling to be given a light back rub as they sit down to relax. This is especially encouraging to them if they’ve been more physical and could just use a little relaxing touch.
- Extra Touch – Small extra touches can be comforting throughout everyday tasks. A small brush on the hand of a senior, a comforting rub across their back or a soft pat on their arm allows them to enjoy the sense of touch daily.
It’s important to know the person you’re caring for and understand what type of touch is acceptable to them. Some people don’t enjoy hugs and feel as though their space is being invaded; others may have a mental or physical problem that can create panic or dislike to certain types of touch.
Years without the sense of touch can be damaging. The human touch is often a forgotten sense that can make a difference in a person’s quality of life throughout the years.
Photo by lloydcrew