Holding hands is becoming an activity for the young and in love, leaving many older people lonely and missing out on important physical contact with family members, a recent poll has suggested.
The poll, conducted by older people’s charity Abbeyfield, of 3,000 people shows 80% of people associate holding hands with romance, and more than one in four say that they have never held the hand of a grandparent.
Psychologist Honey Langcaster-James has warned that people under estimate the importance of physical contact for the elderly and especially the healing power of holding hands.
She said: “Whilst to young people holding hands may be a sign of romance or sexual attraction, for the elderly this simple act of physical contact can have huge health benefits and play an essential role in well-being. Many older individuals feel isolated and lonely and don’t have the opportunity to make physical contact with anyone.
“For an elderly person, reaching for their hand can have far more benefits than giving them pills. Because we tend to begin holding hands with our parents when we’re small and helpless and later in our romantic relationships, the act of holding hands is associated with feelings of being loved and cared-for. That’s why it’s so vitally important for the elderly to have their hands held as often as possible, so they can remember and receive that same reassurance”.
Paul Allen, chief executive of Abbeyfield said: “Loneliness is a very real issue for the elderly and as our ageing population increases, so do the problems. We are highlighting the benefits of this simple act to encourage more people to hold hands with family members and friends, of all ages”