October 26, 2022

Family caregiver hugging happy senior man

The benefits of hugs on senior health are many, and hugging is also a great way to show someone love.

Remember during the height of the pandemic, when social distancing was the norm and we had to settle for virtual visits? One of the most fundamental components of being a human – physical touch – was set aside in order to protect us all from harm.

However, we quickly discovered that cutting out physical contact with each other caused quite a lot of harm in and of itself. It is especially important for senior loved ones who have experienced loneliness or isolation to feel connected to those they love. So let’s talk about the benefits of hugs on senior health.

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

• Regulation of the creation of white blood cells

• A strengthened immune system

• Improved circulation within the body

• Improved sleep and glucose metabolism

• An improvement in positive emotions, such as happiness, contentment, and security

• Reduced pain

• Reduced stress

• Fewer negative emotions, like loneliness and anger

• A regulated heart rate and lower blood pressure

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 level of satisfaction with their quality of life and general health. In addition they noted the level 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. Before long, residents were seeking out huggers, and by the conclusion of the first week, they had accumulated nearly 1,400 hugs.

At the conclusion of the study, the participants were surveyed and sectioned off into two categories: low contact (a couple of instances of physical contact per day) and high contact (more than three instances each day). The high contact participants overwhelmingly noted higher levels of satisfaction in the following areas:

• Not feeling hopeless or depressed (97%)

• Interest in doing things (88%)

• Sleeping well (71%)

• Feeling energetic (66%)

• Able to concentrate well (93%)

It just goes to show what an extraordinary difference such a seemingly insignificant display of affection can make for the aging adults in your life. 

Want to know more about the benefits of hugs on senior health? Connect with Continuum’s Chesterfield caregivers either online or at (314) 863-9912 or (636) 861-3336 to find out more ways to improve senior health, and how our in-home care can make a difference in the life of someone you love. For a full list of the communities we serve, visit our Service Area page.