Compassionate Touch For The
Elderly and ILL

Caring touch can have profound, positive effects on one's mental and
emotional state; this is especially true for those who are elderly or infirm.
Massage provides physical and mental stimulation from an "outside" person
not involved in routine care. This can relieve boredom for the mentally alert
and help disoriented reconnect with the present time and place.

As an individual relaxes, daily frustrations can seem less overwhelming. A
person who feels better after a compassionate touch session may be more
inclined to be physically active, to socialize with others, or simply smile at
loved ones.

Nurturing touch can calm the anxious or agitated person who feels
frightened, depressed or out of control. The person feels less lonely, and is
reassured that he or she is still important, that someone cares.  This
generally improves their overall state of mind.

Releasing muscle tension through compassionate touch can:

*
Increase blood circulation allowing the body to help heal itself
* Improve balance, coordination, and mobility
* Result in more restful sleep
* Decrease the need for pain or sleeping medication
* Increase energy
* Ease and deepen breathing
* Improve appetite and digestion
* Help relieve constipation
*Positively influence the immune system

Massage therapy can be given in almost any setting including home,
hospital, or long term care facility. The person receiving the massage can
be in bed or seated upright in a chair or wheelchair, and may remain fully
clothed.

A massage session can last from 20 to 60 minutes depending on the
person's physical condition, mental and emotional state, and tolerance for
touch.  Sessions can vary considerably to meet individual needs and
preferences, from a simple hand or foot massage to a complete body
massage. Sometimes focused attention will yield the greatest benefit. This
can be as simple as actively listening to a person and maintaining
supportive physical contact such as gentle pressure to the hand or
shoulder.  

A qualified massage therapist can answer your questions about the
appropriateness and benefits of massage for anyone in your care. He or
she will also be happy to explain his or her education, certification, and
specialized background in working with the elderly or ill.


'Tis the human touch in this world that counts,
The touch of your hand and mine,
Which means far more to the fainting heart
Than shelter and bread and wine;

For shelter is gone when the night is o'er,
And bread lasts only a day,
But the touch of the hand and the sound of the voice
Sing on in the soul always...

--Spencer Michael Free