A Touch of Caregiving

holding hands

Touch is part of our daily lives. We hold a hand, pet our cats, feel the softness of a blanket. Touch connects us to the world around us. It connects us to things and to people. It is a basic human need.

I was reminded of this the other day when I was sitting at church and two rows ahead of me was a grandmother sitting next to what looked to be her granddaughter. The grandmother continuously stroked her granddaughter’s back and arm and patted her shoulders. She would occasionally hold her hand and all the while her granddaughter took it all in. It reminded me that sometimes as we get older, human touch becomes less and less and connections fade away.

As caregivers, we must not forget the importance of touch-hugs, embraces, hand holding, pats, shoulder rubs, gentle massages, back scratching. Here are some activities that include touch:

  • Rub lotion into hands and arms and give a gentle massage. This provides touch and keeps the skin from drying out.
  • Consider a massage therapist for gentle massage. There are some therapists who specialize in massage for older persons.
  • Hold hands while walking. It’s nice to have someone to hang on to.
  • Hold hands while reminiscing or looking at pictures.
  • Include pets in your daily activities when you can. They are generally great for the sense of touch.
  • Encourage other sensory activities that involve touch like feeling fabric textures, plants leaves, foods, clothing, etc… Notice the difference in textures and what it feels like.
  • See The Personal Touch of Activities of Daily Living for more.

**Consideration: Not every person enjoys being touched. Personal space may be important to some.

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