The Gift of Touch: Reaching Out for Our Elders

The aging process often brings with it a growing physical isolation. The illness or death of a spouse, children and grandchildren moving to distant locations, and the limitations of reduced mobility each can play a part in robbing us of our most human and healing treasure — touch.

Try to imagine never being touched by another human being again. No hugs, no handshakes, no pats on the back. Without too much exaggeration, this is the lonely reality of many older people. Is it any wonder they often center their lives around their illnesses? On the one hand, the stress of isolation may be adding to their sickness; on the other hand, their doctors and nurses are often their only safe source of touch. Classic psychology research in the 1960s proved that “failure to thrive” in infants was much more highly correlated to lack of physical contact than it was to any nutritional or other cause. This basic human need does not disappear as we age.

The Gift Of Touch Seminar explores the issues of touch: safety, privacy, intimacy and communication. Ways of raising the “Touch Quotient” in one’s personal and professional life and the mutual stress-reducing benefits of doing so are discussed. A hands-on training in basic massage is given, with substantial time for students to practice.

The Gift of Touch Seminar is designed for senior citizens’ caregivers and helping professionals who want a deeper level of healing connection. It addresses the needs of both clients and their caregivers to gain a concrete sense of self and worth through the medium of touch. Knowledge of some of the classic techniques of massage imparts a confidence that enables this connection.

The Gift of Touch Seminar blends together many avenues of learning. Lecture, guided visualization, physical exercises, massage, and centering meditation are each incorporated. Written materials are provided. The total seminar time can be adapted to suit any schedule, from one hour to a full day to a weekend retreat. Physical limitations have no bearing on the participants’ experience.