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Hugs Have Huge Health Benefits for Seniors

Who doesn’t love a good hug? I know they always make me feel better! When I’m feeling down or sad, hugs provide me a sense of comfort. When I’m feeling great and happy, hugs are like a celebration of love and acceptance.

The late Australian Zookeeper and Outback adventurer, Steve Irwin, once said, “Where I live, if someone gives you a hug it’s from the heart.” I believe this to be true here in America and throughout the world, too!

There are many benefits to hugging, no matter one’s age, and they include many positive physiological and psychological impacts. So, in recognition of National Hugging Day, Saturday, January 21, I did a bit of research about the huge health benefits of hugs for seniors.

Browning Geriatric Consulting explains, “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.”

Physiological & Psychological Benefits of Hugging

  • Hugs increase dopamine, serotonin, and cortisone levels, all of which naturally occur in our body and help suppress negative emotions, like loneliness and anger, and replace them with feelings of happiness, security, and contentment. In addition, hugs promote the production of oxytocin in the body which aids in bonding, love, and trust.
  • Hugs help strengthen the immune system, balance the parasympathetic nervous system, and regulate white blood cell production.
  • Hugs help muscles relax and relieve tension in the body. They also help increase circulation and reduce pain.
  • Hugs help lower blood pressure and regulate the heart rate. Furthermore, hugs help improve glucose metabolism and quality of sleep.
  • Hugs also help us feel loved and safe, and they give our self-esteem a boost!

Benefits of Hugs for Seniors

All of the above are reasons enough why hugs are beneficial for seniors, but there’s more.

“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 (conditions) significantly benefit from embracing by deterring the effects of these illnesses,” Browning says. “If senior citizens could get the daily hugs they need, then depression and isolation could be avoided, and they could live fuller, happier lives.”

Often seniors in assisted living facilities (ALFs) or skilled nursing centers do not get the hugs they need because they have usually lost their significant others, family members and friends, and they have limited contact with loved ones who are unable or unwilling to visit them often.

Moreover, seniors who suffer from physical limitations, health issues, disabilities, or depression are less likely to make new friends within the confines of their residence. This is especially troubling because no one should be left feeling alone and isolated with limited human contact.

Browning reiterates, “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.”

I’ll take it a step further. As part of our Send a Senior a Smile campaign, the compassionate caregivers at Home Helpers® are master huggers because they realize how much their clients benefit from human touch and connection. Whether they are providing in-home care services for seniors in their homes, in ALFs or skilled nursing centers, hugs are a regular part of the care plan to help bring smiles to their faces, lift their spirits, and make them feel loved, safe, and content.

Home Helpers® exists to make life easier for seniors where they are in many ways. If you or a special senior you know could benefit from a few more hugs, along with any number of in-home care services, I offer a FREE Consultation to discuss how a perfectly matched caregiver can help improve their quality of life while bringing them more hugs, love, laughter, and smiles!

We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award 2016-2022 and the Best of Home Care® Employer of Choice Award 2022. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson, and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539


Browning Geriatric Consulting