Centuries of experience confirms modern research that reveals the human touch is necessary for good mental and physical health. The skin is the largest organ of the body and it is full of complex networks of sensors, nerves and receptors that react to touch. Touch is highly therapeutic and it can make a real difference in a person’s life, regardless of age. However, a growing number of elderly adults in the United States are touch deprived, meaning they don’t get enough daily or weekly interaction with others.
Touch deprivation can have a serious effect on a person’s mental and physical health. Yet too many people take touch for granted and don’t think about the serious effects on those who are touch deprived. Seniors are particularly vulnerable because often they are increasingly isolated from employment and social activities they once enjoyed. Their children are grown and often have moved far away. They may be dealing with a spouse and siblings that have died. Their limited mobility keeps them from going out and finding new opportunities to socialize. They depend on home care assistants. All this leads up to touch deprivation in a growing number of elderly Americans.
Studies show that the vast network of nerves, sensors and receptors in the human skin requires the touch of another human for someone to stay healthy and happy. Touch can lower blood pressure, reduces stress, boosts the immune system and ease depression. Those who are touch deprived go to more doctor’s appointments and often get sicker for longer. Touch deprivation can also heighten feelings of loneliness, grief and irritation. Family caregivers that have plenty of interaction in their lives may not even realize the negative health effects that touch deprivation has on their aging relatives.
There are lots of things that family caregivers can do to ensure their relatives don’t become touch deprived. First, it’s no wonder that animal therapy and geriatric massage therapy are growing rapidly, because they provide the next best thing to human touch between loved ones. Pet therapy matches animals with seniors for an hour or more of cuddles and play. Dogs and cats benefit form the attention and the elderly people can spend time interacting with the patient animals. Geriatric therapy is designed to relax tight muscles and increase circulation. A positive side effect of geriatric surgery is that it satisfies the body’s requirement for therapeutic touching for many seniors.
Family caregivers can also do a lot to physically interact with their loved ones as well by increasing the hugs and kisses between people. Even simple things like sitting close while watching television, putting a hand on the arm when talking, and robbing the hand or arm can all help seniors feel less isolated. Many people hire home care aides to help around the house, and they can also provide gentle touch and interaction throughout the day.
No matter how long an elderly person has been dealing with touch deprivation, it can be changed in a short period of time. It’s never too late for family members to start providing this all natural and risk-free therapeutic solution to touch-deprived seniors to boost their health and wellness, both physically and emotionally.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care services in Memorial, TX, please call the caring staff at At Your Side Home Care. We will answer all of your senior care questions. Call today: (832) 271-1600.
Our Certified Nurse Aides, 24-Hour Live-in Assistants and Home Health Aides are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We also provide the security and confidence of 24-hour Telephone Assistance, so fast, reliable help is always available when it's needed. To learn more about our homecare services see our homecare services page.
Different people need different levels of homecare. To meet the requirements of our clients, At Your Side Homecare maintains consistent staffing levels of caring professionals. Homecare service is available for as little as a few hours a week, or as many as 24 hours a day, seven days a week
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