Touch Deprivation

Carol’s Notes:  Skin hunger is a sad, growing epidemic in our society. Unfortunately, it’s an emotional response that is developed by a lack of touch. Sadly, our elderly and disabled are at the greatest risk. This is because they tend to live in isolated homes and do not often venture outward from fear of victimization. Families are living apart in different states and this keeps them from being close to their loved ones. Do you live apart from your loved one? Have you reached out to them lately? Think of ways you can show them that you care and make them feel connected to the family.

The United States is known as the country for being the lowest on the scale of touch or intimacy and has 3 trends for which to blame. The first is the trend of technology, which allows us to communicate with anyone around the world, but dehumanizes the interaction. In a recent National poll, Americans rated the cell phone as the device they hate the most yet cannot live without. We interact more with our electronic devices than we do with each other, completely eliminating touch from the equation. Furthermore, many older Americans do not use technological devices, leaving them to feel unloved and out of the loop with others.

Secondly, Americans live disconnected lifestyles because of urbanization and the loss of extended family. More families also include careers for both parents, leading to less interaction with children and grandparents. Instead of asking for the grandparents to care for their children in the mean time, parents take their kids to impersonal day care centers. This isolation makes face-to-face, interpersonal communication more difficult.
Lastly, American citizens live in an extremely litigious society, where touching someone can be deemed sexual harassment. These laws and federal offenses make people afraid to hug and physically greet one another. Unfortunately, the same the same treatment is given to older citizens.

However, the United States has recognized the human touch as a healing mechanism. The modern healing-touch can be found in therapeutic massages, the most well known and accepted method of healing sore and injured muscles. It is also known for reducing overall pain and engendering a feeling of relaxation and spiritual well-being in the receiver. For those suffering from skin hunger, a massage may satisfy cravings.

Thus, the elderly may lead longer and happier lives if they receive a warm touch from a friend every now and then. A pat on the pack, squeeze of the hand, massage or a gentle hug can heal ailments and make both you and your senior happier. Although caregiving may be frustrating at times, do not forgo such a human and elemental need as touch.

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