Can a Hug a Day Keep the Doctor Away? Improve Senior Health With Hugs!

Happy senior couple hugging outside at sunset
A simple hug can be an incredibly powerful way to improve senior health!

Remember during the height of the pandemic, when social distancing was the norm and we needed to settle for virtual visits? One of the most basic components of being a human – physical touch – was set aside in order to protect us all from harm. Yet while we followed these measures to improve senior health (as well as our own), we may have been missing the mark.

We quickly discovered that eliminating physical contact with each other caused quite a lot of harm in and of itself. It is especially important for the elderly who have experienced isolation or loneliness to feel connected to those they love, and there’s an easy but highly beneficial solution: hugs.

Studies have revealed the following incredible health effects obtained by giving and receiving hugs:

  • Improved sleep and glucose metabolism
  • Lower blood pressure and a regulated heart rate
  • Reduced pain
  • Regulation of the production of white blood cells
  • Reduced stress
  • A strengthened immune system
  • Fewer negative emotions, such as loneliness and anger
  • Improved circulation within the body
  • A boost in positive emotions, like contentment, security, and happiness

One senior care home in New York tested the impact of hugs on seniors with a program called “Embraceable You”. This voluntary program drew 200 participants who rated their current degree of satisfaction with their wellbeing and overall health. They also noted the amount of casual touch experienced in their lives. Trained “hug ambassadors” were brought in to administer appropriate types of touch, while residents were given buttons to wear if they were interested in taking part in the hug experiment.

Throughout the study, residents were given a token for every hug they received. In a short time, residents were seeking out huggers, and by the end of the first week, they had accumulated nearly 1,400 hugs.

At the end of the study, the participants were interviewed and separated into two categories: low contact (one or two instances of physical contact each day) and high contact (more than three instances per day). The high contact participants overwhelmingly noted higher levels of satisfaction in the following areas:

  • Able to concentrate well (93%)
  • Interest in doing things (88%)
  • Feeling energetic (66%)
  • Sleeping well (71%)
  • Not feeling depressed or hopeless (97%)

It just goes to show what an amazing difference such a seemingly insignificant display of affection can make for the senior loved ones in your life.

Contact Serenity Home Care, the top provider of in-home care in Metchosin and surrounding areas, at 250.590-8098 to learn more approaches to improve senior health, and how our in-home care can make a positive change in the life of someone you love.