All of us—especially older folks—long to be touched. There’s a spiritual quality to touch. As Jesus performed miracles, he often touched the people he encountered. The biblical metaphor of God’s hand symbolizes more than God’s abundance, also revealing a God who’s close enough to touch you! A touch signals that a loving relationship is present.
As a caregiver, you have an especially critical role in offering this blessing to your beloved elder. Touching may not come easily, though. In the press of other matters, you might not notice that this dear older person wants to be touched by you. Your family history might not have included these interactions. You might be deterred from touching because of the sight of the older person’s physical self.
Your loving touch can communicate what words alone cannot. Holding the hands of your loved one while you talk together can make the words sink in and stay. Even at a time of seeming unresponsiveness, your hands can impart assurance of your abiding presence, acceptance and even healing. The benefits of touch increase when it lingers as a caress, massage, rub, tousling—or even scratching!
Your hands are the primary source of touch, but your face—lips, cheeks, nose—may also have special capabilities for salving the skin hunger your older loved one experiences. Standing close beside your elder allows your arms to be wrapped around or intertwined with your loved one’s torso. Hair-combing, face-shaving or makeup-applying can offer special tactile pleasure. Your guiding hand or arm increases balance or mobility, but it also assures safety. Gentle hugs of any kind—full, side, partial—are perhaps an ultimate offering of touch’s benefits.
As a caregiver, you can give great pleasure to your beloved elder in your touching.
God’s loving hands working through yours …
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