Tuesday 4 September 2012

The Caregivers' Six Senses: Today is TOUCH

This is the first in a mini-series about how the senses are used in caregiving.  Today's subject: TOUCH

One of the benefits of caregiving, I believe, is that we touch the people we love more than the average, busy working person.

Young parents know the primal satisfaction of touching their new baby.  But when children grow up, sometimes opportunities for touch fall victim to long hours at the office and busy after-school agendas.  Caregivers never lose the opportunity for intimacy through caring touch.

My son Nicholas turned 24 last week, but throughout his life, I have performed his care, helped him play with toys by holding his hand in mine.  I have held his head as he struggled to sip a drink or eat a sandwich without choking.  I held him when he was a baby, and when he grew, I kept on holding him.

When Nick developed a dislocated hip, he had surgery to rebuild the broken joint.  Because he was medically complex, he was sent immediately to the intensive care ward after the operation.  Jim, my husband, and I waited for him there and when he was wheeled on a gurney to his ICU bay, still sleeping, I gently placed my hands on his arm and silently willed healing, relaxation, and pain relief into him with all my might.

When my mother in law was lying in hospital and we knew that the end was coming, I had the privilege of massaging her arms and legs with moisturizing creams as we chatted.

The touch inherent in my own caregiving has given me a deeper appreciation of how touching and being touched can excite, bond, relax, reassure and inspire.

Touching someone we love is deeply wonderful and we caregivers are reminded of that every day.  It's just one of the benefits of the job.