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Older people missing benefits of hand holding, warns psychologist


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”


Readers' comments (4)

  • how do you know that the elderly wish to hold your hand or anybody else's and especially that of somebody totally unrelated? Everybody has different feelings and perceptions on this and it should not be enforced. some individuals prefer distance. as for the healing power ......sounds like mysticism!!!!!!!!! too many pills and potent cocktails of medication are often enforced upon the elderly often for the convenience and peace of mind of their carers and in place of the basic care, contact and level of activities they need (physical and intellectual) with dramatic side-effects and they often do not understand why they have so many and what they are for. The intelligence of the elderly should not be so undermined - respect and dignity is what they require and participation and choice according to their ability in their care and daily living needs and activities with the elimination of stereotyping and discimination. The have needs like every other generation and that is not just to be shoved into a chair in a corner of a nursing home.

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  • ha, ha - the psychologists at it again. they always seem to have explanation for everything and infiltrate every facet of peoples' lives!

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  • looks like a repeat of the ridiculous article on depression at Christmas last year

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  • touchy feely!

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