National Hugging Day was Tuesday, January 21, 2020! This comforting holiday is for both the young and old because everyone can benefit from a hug. The simple act of hugging has impressive psychological and physical effects on our body and mind. Scientific research has proven that hugs from significant others, children, parents, friends, and even pets can have a profound effect on our recovering from illnesses and having a beneficial chemical reaction to the brain and body. But how can hugs benefit the elderly?
The Benefits and Health Effects of Hugging
- Hugs increase dopamine, serotonin, and cortisone levels. All of these naturally occurring chemicals in our body help alleviate negative emotions such as loneliness and anger, and it can replace them with feeling happy, security, pleasure, and contentment. Hugs also increase the presence of oxytocin in the body, which helps with bonding, love, and trust. Hug therapy even helps treat depression in clinical settings!
- Hugs help strengthen your immune system, balance the parasympathetic nervous system, and regulate white blood cell production.
- Hugs help muscle relaxation and release tension in the body. They also help increase circulation and reduce pain in the body.
- Hugs help lower blood pressure and regulate the heart rate. They also help improve glucose metabolism and the quality of sleep.
- Hugs also help make us feel loved, safe and boost our self-esteem.
How Hugs Benefit Senior Citizens
The elderly need hugs more than any other age group, but unfortunately, they don’t get hugged as often as they should. Age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular can significantly benefit from embracing by deterring the effects of these illnesses. Senior citizens in assisted living centers often don’t get the option of daily contact with their friends and family members. Most of the time, they have lost their significant other or close friends, and their health issues, disabilities, or depression can get in the way of making new friends. If senior citizens could get the daily hugs they need, then depression and isolation could be avoided, and they could live fuller happier lives.
Whether it’s a quick hug with an acquaintance, a hug between old friends, a big bear hug, or a long hug between family members, try to make sure that any senior citizens you know are receiving multiple hugs daily. The power of therapeutic touch is strong and can heal.