The Incredible Senior Health Benefits Gained Through a Simple Hug

The Incredible Senior Health Benefits Gained Through a Simple Hug

Remember during the height of the pandemic, when social distancing was the norm and we had to settle for virtual visits? One of the most fundamental aspects of being a human – physical touch – was set aside in order to protect us all from harm. Yet what we thought was providing a senior health benefit was actually causing quite a lot of harm.

We quickly learned how detrimental social isolation is to all of us, but in particular, for seniors. It’s especially important for older adults who have experienced isolation or loneliness to feel connected to those they love, and there’s a simple but highly beneficial solution: hugs.

Research has revealed the following incredible health effects obtained by giving and receiving hugs:

  • A strengthened immune system
  • Reduced stress
  • Regulation of the production of white blood cells
  • Fewer negative emotions, like anger and loneliness
  • A boost in positive emotions, like contentment, security, and happiness
  • Lower blood pressure and a regulated heart rate
  • Increased circulation in the body
  • Reduced pain
  • Improved sleep and glucose metabolism
  • And more

One retirement home in New York tested the effect of hugs on seniors with a program called “Embraceable You.” This voluntary program drew 200 participants who rated their current level of satisfaction with their quality of life and overall health. They also noted 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.

Throughout the study, residents were given a token for each hug they received. Before long, residents were seeking out huggers, and by the end 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:

  • Interest in doing things (88%)
  • Not feeling depressed or hopeless (97%)
  • Sleeping well (71%)
  • Feeling energetic (66%)
  • Able to concentrate well (93%)

It just goes to show what an incredible difference such a seemingly insignificant display of affection can make for the older adults in your life.

Contact Amy’s Helping Hands at 519-915-4370 for more information on our award-winning caregivers in Windsor, Ontario and the surrounding areas. We’ll be happy to provide you with a free in-home assessment to share more ways to improve senior health, and how our in-home care can make a difference in the life of someone you love.