Love, Resources, Tips, tools & skills, Toward better care

20 ways touch benefits people who live with dementia


The image above is a close-up of Mom and her BFF Gaby holding hands on July 13, 2013, when I took them to a concert in the park. Gaby was 98 at the time, Mom was 86;  they sat side by side and had a grand time listening and clapping to the music, watching the band and the goings on around them and being “au plein air” on a fine summer evening.

Gaby and Mom loved to hold hands, wherever, whenever. They did it all the time. So did Mom and I. Appropriate loving physical touch (I deliberately include the qualifiers “appropriate” and ” loving” for obvious reasons), is fundamental to human health and well being, and yet the elderly, particularly people who live with dementia, and especially those in the later stages don’t get enough of it, which is sad in view of the many benefits. Appropriate loving physical touch is easy to do; it:

  • requires no special skill
  • uses no equipment
  • takes little time
  • costs nothing
  • feels good

Here are some of the benefits thanks to Ann Catlin, and AGEucate (watch the short slide show below for more information):

  1. eases pain
  2. improves sleep
  3. lowers heart rate
  4. decreases anxiety
  5. increases relaxation
  6. soothes and comforts
  7. lowers blood pressure
  8. gently focusses attention
  9. helps heal both body soul
  10. makes people feel secure
  11. creates trust and goodwill
  12. builds bridges and connection
  13. immediately decreases agitation
  14. lowers agitation for up to an hour
  15. fosters feelings of closeness and warmth
  16. decreases intensity of agitated behaviour
  17. decreases frequency of agitated behaviour
  18. makes people feel that others care about them
  19. conveys fondness, kindness, concern and encouragement
  20. improves relationships between PLWD and their care partners

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