The elderly often have impaired hearing, visual acuity, mobility and vitality problems that can make someone feel isolated, helpless and vulnerable. Through the emotional involvement of touch, caregivers can reach through isolation and communicate love, trust, affection, security and warmth.
Massage can also help caregivers who are faced with managing behavior and guiding a person who may be confused or agitated. Touch is one of our most basic human needs and remains constant throughout life. Elders with dementia or other serious illness are often deprived of nurturing touch and meaningful physical closeness. Caring touch is necessary to bring about a sense of well-being and security.
Since touching someone's hand is so familiar, anyone can give a simple hand massage without causing further confusion or agitation. Here's a process anyone can use to give a hand massage:
- Take your left hand and using the space between your pinky and ring finger, lodge it between the other person's pinky and ring finger on their left hand, resting your thumb on their palm.
- Take your right hand and using the space between your pinky and ring finger, lodge it between the other person's index finger and thumb on their left hand, resting your other thumb on their palm.
- Gently use your thumbs to put pressure on the other person's palm.
- Massage according to the direction of blood vessels and towards the heart. Apply light pressure for general safety and to ensure comfort.
- Gently rub from the base of each finger to the tip.
- Gently squeeze the skin between the person's thumb and index finger to loosen up any tightness.
- Switch hands.