Touch is Vitally Important
Do you ever hesitate to reach out and touch someone for fear of rejection? Most people do appreciate the sense of touch, regardless of age.
Touch is important to human survival. It is the first sense to develop and one of the last senses to go. No matter how old we are, we all love holding hands, big hugs, and back rubs.
“Most of us, whatever our relationship status, need more human contact than we’re getting. Compared with other cultures, we live in a touch-phobic society that’s made affection with anyone but loved ones taboo.”
Matthew Hertenstein, Ph.D., Director of the Touch and Emotion Lab at DePauw University
The benefits of the gift of touch cannot be overstated. The gentleness of a person’s touch increases the likelihood of a longer life and caring touch can assist in faster recovery from illness or injury.
The fundamental necessity for touch remains as we age, yet older adults may receive the least amount of contact of any age group. Sadly, many of our older friends, parents, and grandparents live alone and become socially isolated.
Older patients with long-term stays in hospitals or senior living facilities sometimes suffer from inadequate staffing, who don’t have extra time to offer people, even if they would like to do so. Additionally, our modern society discourages “non-essential” physical touch in a clinical setting, even though studies prove that lives are greatly impacted by increased contact.
10 Ways to Reach Out and Touch*
- Extend greetings with arms opened for a hug… and again when departing
- Hold or touch a hand or arm when speaking with someone
- Offer a hand or an arm while walking
- Apply lotion to dry hands or feet
- Give the gift of a massage appointment
- Bring furry friends to pet when visiting
- Include young children or grandchildren on visits
- Sit next to someone instead of across from him or her
- Place an encouraging arm around their shoulder
- Offer to brush or comb hair (or give the gift of an appointment at a salon)
*Note: Always ask permission before touching someone
Our Bodies React to Touch
|Lowers blood pressure||Slows heart rate|
|Increases pain tolerance||Improves immune function|
|Lowers blood glucose||Enhances alertness|
|Improves pulmonary function||Balances the nervous system|
Human touch can increase oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone,” while also lowering the negative effects of cortisol levels. Both changes lead to positive emotional results.
Our Emotions React to Touch
|Promotes feelings of affection and bonding||Instills thoughts of well-being|
|Calms anxious feelings||Increases empathy and compassion|
|Increases notions of safety, caring, and trust||Reduces sadness|
Remember that touch communicates many things, including, “I am here for you,” “You are important,” “You are not alone,” and “I love you.”
Intentionally connecting daily with others through touch brings benefits!
Share your thoughts in the comment box below…
Do you think you receive enough touch in your life?
Will you consider some of the above suggestions for yourself or loved ones?
Click to read more about the power of touch. In addition to touch, click here if you’d like to read the #1 Rule to Help Parents!