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 put aside in order to protect us all from harm, and especially to keep seniors healthy.
However, we promptly discovered that cutting out physical contact with each other caused quite a lot of harm in and of itself. It is particularly important for aging parents who have experienced isolation or loneliness to feel connected to those they love, and there is an easy but highly beneficial solution: hugs.
Research has uncovered the following incredible health benefits obtained by giving and receiving hugs:
- Regulation of the creation of white blood cells
- Improved sleep and glucose metabolism
- Reduced stress
- Improved circulation in the body
- A strengthened immune system
- Lower blood pressure and a regulated heart rate
- Decreased pain
- Fewer negative emotions, like anger and loneliness
- A boost in positive emotions, such as happiness, contentment, and security
One retirement home in New York tested the effect of hugs on older persons with a program called “Embraceable You.” This voluntary program drew 200 participants who rated their current level of satisfaction with their quality of life and general health. Additionally they noted the amount of casual touch experienced in their lives. Trained “hug ambassadors” were brought in to administer appropriate types of touch, while residents were given buttons to wear if they were interested in participating in the hug experiment.
Throughout the study, residents were given a token for each hug they received. Before long, residents were seeking out huggers, and by the conclusion of the first week, they had accumulated nearly 1,400 hugs.
At the end of the study, the participants were surveyed and separated into two categories: low contact (one or two instances of physical contact each day) and high contact (more than three instances daily). The high contact participants overwhelmingly noted higher levels of satisfaction in the following areas:
- Able to concentrate well (93%)
- Not feeling depressed or hopeless (97%)
- Sleeping well (71%)
- Interest in doing things (88%)
- Feeling energetic (66%)
It just goes to show what an unbelievable difference such a seemingly insignificant display of affection can make for the senior loved ones in your life.
Reach out to Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, a trusted provider of home care and respite care in Kalamazoo, MI and the surrounding areas, at (866) 229-2505 to learn more ways to keep seniors healthy, and how our in-home care can make a difference in the life of someone you love.