Touch and Age

The following was submitted by Peggy Rouh for her Senior Massage CE Workshop.

Touch and Age

…tactile needs do not seem to change with aging — if anything, they seem to increase. Yet this is where we fail the aging quite miserably — as we do in much else.

The aging desire neither to be patronized nor tolerated but to be understood, respected and worthy of the love they have bestowed on others. Because we are unwilling to face the fact of aging, we behave as if it isn’t there. It is this massive evasion that is the principle reason for our failure to understand the needs of the aging.

The most important and neglected of these needs is the need for the tactile stimulation. The elderly often have impaired hearing, visual acuity, mobility and vitality problems that can make them feel helpless and vulnerable. It is through the emotional involvement of touch that one can reach through the isolation and communicate love, trust, affections, and warmth.

It is well known in professional circles that young nursing students tend to avoid touching elderly patients, and especially the acutely ill …touching as a therapeutic event is not as simple as a mechanical procedure or a drug, because it is, above all, an act of communication. The use of touch and physical closeness may be the most important way to communicate to the acutely ill (and aged) persons that they are important as human beings.

It is especially in the aging that we see touching at its best an act of spiritual grace and a continuing human sacrament.

Author Unknown