The height of the pandemic was devastating for many reasons, but especially because of how physically isolated we were from each other. One of the most basic aspects of being a human – physical touch – was set aside in order to protect all of us from harm.
However, we discovered very quickly that a lack of physical contact with each other caused quite a lot of harm in and of itself. It is especially important for senior loved ones who have experienced isolation or loneliness to feel connected to those they love, and there’s an effective but highly beneficial solution: hugs.
Researchers have found the following incredible benefits for a senior’s health obtained by giving and receiving hugs:
- Reduced stress
- A strengthened immune system
- Improved sleep and glucose metabolism
- Increased circulation in the body
- Regulation of the creation of white blood cells
- A boost in positive emotions, like contentment, security, and happiness
- Reduced pain
- A regulated heart rate and lower blood pressure
- Fewer negative emotions, such as loneliness and anger
One senior care facility in New York tested the impact of hugs on seniors with a program called “Embraceable You”. This voluntary program drew 200 participants who rated their current degree of satisfaction with their wellbeing and overall health. Even further, they traced the level 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.
In the study, residents received a token for each 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 end of the study, the participants were surveyed and separated into two categories: low contact (one or two instances of physical contact per day) and high contact (more than three instances per day). The high contact participants overwhelmingly noted higher levels of satisfaction in the following areas:
- Feeling energetic (66%)
- Able to concentrate well (93%)
- Interest in doing things (88%)
- Sleeping well (71%)
- Not feeling hopeless or depressed (97%)
It just goes to show what an extraordinary difference such a seemingly insignificant display of affection can make for a senior’s health.
Contact JFS Care online or at 213-383-2273 to find out more strategies to improve older adult health and to learn how our elder home care in Los Angeles and the nearby areas can make a positive change in the life of someone you love. See our full service area.