There’s a lot that residents of Mt. Vernon and elsewhere can find to appreciate about the concept of palliative care.
It’s an approach that focuses on quality of life first and desired outcome second. It can appeal to people who have already been through a lot of medical treatments, and for people who don’t necessarily want to go through all of them for various reasons.
It’s also an approach that the staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care advocates, whether it’s helping them manage their pain levels or transition to hospice care.
Our staff tries to keep up with care trends, which indicate that an important part of palliative is touch.
It’s not news that people need human touch, and emotionally challenging times, such as difficult health conditions, often mean that more touch is appreciated.
But not everyone knows that there’s some scientific research that shows that there are actual benefits to touching someone and being touched.
It’s often referred to as the “mind-body connection,” according to Psychology Today. The philosophy is complex, but generally describes how trying to make someone good physically can make someone feel good mentally, and vice versa.
It’s the root of touch-based therapies such as chiropractic care, massage, and even physical therapy, where manipulating someone’s body can directly help with everything from reducing pain to improving relaxation to helping you sleep better. These services can also help improve other aspects of someone’s life, from unblocking past mental trauma to helping reduce anxieties and cutting stress.
Anyone can do it
Though professionals such as massage therapists have had significant training in anatomy, muscle groups and different types of techniques, touching is actually something anyone can provide, as long as the touch is welcome and appreciated.
In fact, light touches, such as touching someone’s arm or shoulder, can be appreciated. Giving or receiving a hug can even be more welcoming.
Though kissing is considered a little more intimate in the U.S. compared to other cultures where kisses are as common as handshakes, this behavior also can provide mental and physical relief.
Hugs especially can allow energy to be transferred from person to person, whether it’s a light half hug or a full-body hug.
For those ready for a hug, this month is a perfect time. Jan 21 is National Hug Day.
A survival mechanism?
Neuronation goes even further into the value of touch and theorizes that connecting to others physically isn’t just good because it feels nice, but it’s actually a primal, instinctual tool that tells us we’re safe and allows us to put our guard down.
It makes the comparison to bad touches that cause us pain, such as feeling something hot, which we will avoid later to not be burned.
Touching can have the opposite benefits: it feels good every time we do it, whether we’re touching or the one being touched.
The article goes on to discuss various studies which indicate that physical touch has helped reduce the duration and intensity of cold symptoms, improved security, and reduces stress. This holds true for every age, from infants to seniors.
Where it especially can benefit seniors is in the area of reducing the mental and physical pain of loneliness. Seniors are often at a higher risk of depression, especially those who are alone. Depression has its own risk factors and ways to reduce it, such as physical activity.
Regular touching such as massage therapy can not only help with pain reduction but provide a physical connection that can offer a significant boost to someone’s overall well-being.
The lack of it can be true as well: Vice describes something called “skin crazy” where our bodies begin to crave even a simple touch if we’re deprived of it over extended periods of time. This doesn’t have to mean anything intimate, but simply being around other humans can be good in so many ways.
The article describes how everyone can be susceptible to feeling ‘people-deprived,’ especially in our technology-filled world, where it’s much easier to talk to people over the phone or email rather than in person.
It specifically mentions prisoners, who often suffer mental problems because they’re literally locked away from the rest of the world, and seniors, who also may feel alone, and these feelings can lead to other feelings of depression.
Seniors may enjoy talking to friends and loved ones via phone, email or text, but they may be badly missing out on actual touch.
Lots of options
The staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care is well aware of the healthy power of touching and how important it is.
Our staff is encouraged to provide positive touching to patients when appropriate and welcomed. We also can arrange the services of a skilled massage therapist, who can provide pain relief.
This service not only can help reduce muscle pain and current stresses, provide a physical connection, give themselves something to look forward too, and generally make them feel better about their life.