The healing power of touch

To touch can be to give life,” said Michelangelo. In skilled hands, touch can be miraculous. It can sustain and nourish life. It has the power to soothe, heal, and comfort. Massage or touch therapy is an often overlooked therapy to give to an aging parent who might be having a difficult time in transitioning from one phase of life to the next. Yet massage can be one of the most life-giving, healing gifts for someone who is:

  • Living with a medical condition such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Lewy bodies, or other forms of dementia
  • Struggling with the transition from one’s home residence into a care community
  • Grieving the loss of a spouse
  • Struggling with depression, loneliness, loss of confidence, and feelings of isolation
For 30 years Dr. Tiffany Field, the head of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine has been conducting studies on the effects of massage. In her studies with elders, “one group of elderly participants received regular, conversation-filled social visits while another received social visits that also included massage. The second group saw emotional and cognitive benefits over and above those of the first... touch can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels, stimulate the hippocampus, and drive the release of a host of hormones and neuropeptides that have been linked to positive and uplifting emotions. The physical effects of touch are far-reaching.”

Massage can make a big difference for an aging parent or loved one challenged by these kinds of issues. If you are feeling at a loss for what to do next, you might want to consider massage as part of the care plan.

As a certified massage therapist specializing in elder care, Mary Ann Konarzewski offers CBD massage as part of the pain management program at Insight for Wellness. She travels to retirement communities, skilled nursing, assisted living, memory care units and private homes throughout most of Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. Her award-winning book, Creating a Rich and Meaningful Life in Long-Term Care (Apocryphile Press, 2017) is available for purchase on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

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