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The Importance of Touch

Tuesday February 27, 2018

Holding Hands - The Importance of Touch for Your Loved One with Dementia

Have you ever considered the importance of touch in your daily life?

I love the feeling of my 8-year-old son jumping into my arms, his arms wrapped around my neck for a giant hug first thing in the morning. I love when my 11-year-old daughter, who is now as tall as I am, puts her phone down and leans in for a real hug. I enjoy when my husband puts his hand on my back as he passes me in the kitchen or how he kisses me before he leaves for work. Touch is important to all of us. We need physical contact.

What about for you? What hugs and moments of affection do you treasure?

Now, think about the loved one you care for. What type of touch does he or she receive each day?

Mom is touched when you give her medication and assist with toileting. Your spouse is touched when you help him put on his shirt and when you redirect him to walk a certain way. These touches are different. They are task-oriented. They aren’t about affection. It’s about getting something done.

The need for loving touch does not go away when someone has dementia. And just because someone can’t communicate his or her need for physical affection doesn’t mean it’s needed any less. Touch is important from our earliest development till the very end of our lives.

Let us not get so caught up in our to-do lists that we forget to provide the physical affection our loved ones need. Touch can communicate when words can’t. It can convey love, support, encouragement, and understanding. Touch can calm nerves and comfort those who are distressed.

My challenge to you: Take some time each day to put the to-do list aside. Let your busy bee fly. Give your loved one a real hug or a pat on the shoulder. Hold his or her hand as you tell stories. Embrace the moment, for these are the times you will treasure.

Our activities director once told me: “You can’t give a hug without receiving a hug.” So true.

A virtual hug from us to you. Now, pass it along!