From the moment we come into this world we long for touch, we thrive and grow when we are held close by our loved ones. This basic and essential need does not lessen as we get older, but often times the opportunities to have someone hold your hand, touch your face or give you a hug are fewer and fewer. Why is this?
It can happen for many reasons. While it is second nature for parents to hug their children when they are small this act can become less frequent as we get older and by the time we are “grown up” our parents may no longer get these precious hugs.. The loss of a partner can alienate us as the person who was closest to us has gone. We sometimes forget what touch can mean to an older person who is not surrounded by family or friends.
The person with dementia is no exception. Although they might not be able to express in words their need to be held or comforted using touch, it doesn’t mean it is not still hugely important and beneficial to them.
At Beechtree Nursing Home we are very – fortunate to have a wonderful Reflexologist who works with our Residents. Deirdrecarries out her holistic therapies , massaging the Residents feet while filling their senses with the wonderful aroma of the herbal balms. This basic act of touching their feet brings about increased relaxation and visible wellbeing for the Residents. Sometimes the opportunity to touch and connect may not come from a person but may be from an animal. A dog, cat or even a rabbit can bring moments of comfort to those with dementia.
We also have regular visits from a “Wooly Wards” mobile farm, who bring in small animals to interact with the residents. These visits are always popular and the beautiful act of connecting with animals is reintroduced into our resident’s lives often bringing back very pleasant and happy memories they had as children. The simple act of stroking the animal can be calming and reassuring for someone who is upset or anxious. We can never underestimate the importance of touch.
“The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person” – Andy Rooney