Remember during the height of the pandemic, when social distancing was the norm and we needed to settle for virtual visits? One of the most fundamental aspects of being a human – physical touch – was set aside in order to protect all of us from harm.
However, we promptly found that eliminating physical contact had adverse effects on a senior’s health. While physical contact benefits everyone, it is especially necessary for senior loved ones who have experienced loneliness or isolation to feel connected to those they love, and there’s a simple but highly beneficial solution: hugs.
Research has revealed the following incredible senior health benefits obtained by giving and receiving hugs:
- Reduced pain
- Improved sleep and glucose metabolism
- A strengthened immune system
- A regulated heart rate and lower blood pressure
- Fewer negative emotions, such as loneliness and anger
- Reduced stress
- An improvement in positive emotions, such as contentment, security, and happiness
- Regulation of the creation of white blood cells
- Increased circulation within the body
One senior care home in New York tested the effect of hugs on older adults with a program called “Embraceable You.” This voluntary program drew 200 participants who rated their current degree of satisfaction with their quality of life and general health. In addition they noted the amount of casual touch experienced in their lives. Trained “hug ambassadors” were brought in to administer appropriate forms of touch, while residents were given buttons to wear if they were interested in taking part in the hug experiment.
Throughout the study, residents were given a token for every single hug they received. In a short time, residents were searching for huggers, and by the conclusion of the first week, they had accumulated nearly 1,400 hugs.
At the conclusion of the study, the participants were interviewed and sectioned off into two categories: low contact (a couple of instances of physical contact each day) and high contact (more than three instances each day). The high contact participants overwhelmingly noted higher amounts of satisfaction in the following areas:
- Able to concentrate well (93%)
- Interest in doing things (88%)
- Not feeling hopeless or depressed (97%)
- Feeling energetic (66%)
- Sleeping well (71%)
It just goes to show what an incredible difference such a seemingly insignificant display of affection can make for the older adults that you know.
Connect with CareWorks Health Services at (949) 859-4700 to learn more methods to improve senior health, and how our home care services in Newport Beach and nearby communities can make a positive change in the life of someone you love.