Saturday, October 2, 2010

Comforting Hands

I remember sitting beside my Mom, snuggling up close to her on the couch holding her hands.   She would look at me and smile.  How I miss those smiles and the time I had with her. When had she gone from strong to frail? She showed her love through her hands - cooking, touching, comforting - her hands were always busy.  I miss her and her loving hands.

I have memories of my mother's touch as a toddler.  I remember sitting on her bed looking at magazines.  She would reach over and pat my hand and go back to her own reading.  Other memories were of Mother rubbing my back just before I took a nap or went to sleep as a youngster.

Ms Nelson,  in The Power of  Touch - Fall 2010 edition of care ADvantage,  talks about different forms of touch therapy that is being developed for individuals who are frail and or suffer from dementia.  Science is also exploring the benefits of skilled touch therapy.  Touch therapy has been used to lessen agitated and aggressive behaviors.  Physically it helps with circulation, softens contracted muscles, relieves minor aches and pains and of course the age old reason for massage - to help relax and reduce stress.

When other forms of communication are challenging, physical touch can say so much.  As my mother aged and the AD progressed I relied more and more on physical touch to communicate my love. I would gently stroke her cheek or the back of her hands. Very light touches, feathery whispers.  I encouraged all Mom's caregivers to reassure her in this way.  We were always rewarded with a beautiful smile of love.  The sense of touch brought all of us comfort, as we continued to communicate. I was so very blessed to feel the warmth and love in my Mother's hands.

Touch is a universal language that most of us practice, but it is great to be validated.  It is encouraging to know that we are on the right track.  The article by Dawn Nelson - "The Power of Touch"  in care ADvantage  has lots of food for thought.  In her article she used a phrase that reached out and spoke to my heart - "intentional touch".   How frustrating and scary it must be to be experiencing communication challenges.  How reassuring intentional touch must be to those we love the most.

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