How many hugs do you give or receive each day? When was the last time you held someone’s hand, or had a friend pat you on the back (not figuratively)? Physical contact, no matter how brief, delivers a profound message that often resonates more deeply and accurately than mere words.
A number of recent studies point to this truth, according to an article “Evidence That Little Touches Do Mean So Much” from the New York Times. Consider the following example: “a sympathetic touch from a doctor leaves people with the impression that the visit lasted twice as long” when juxtaposed with estimates from those who did not receive the same affirming touch. (Read the full article for other amazing study results.)
Imagine the difference to be made if the staff in assisted living greeted residents not only with a smile but also with a firm, reassuring handshake or hug around the shoulders? Imagine the value for residents with Alzheimer’s or stroke victims who cannot communicate in words or speech?
Certainly there are boundaries to respect and standards to uphold so as not to violate a person’s trust or comfort level, but we should not be afraid to reach out when the merits are so significant.
Your turn: Do you agree that appropriate physical touch has a place in assisted living?