Hugs and Senior Health: The Power of Physical Touch

happy seniors hugging
Embrace and feel the connection between hugs and senior health benefits.


Remember during the height of the pandemic, when social distancing was the norm and we needed to be satisfied with virtual visits? One of the most basic components of being a human – physical touch – was put aside in order to protect all of us from harm.

However, we promptly found that eliminating physical contact with each other caused quite a lot of harm in and of itself. It is particularly important for the elderly who have experienced isolation or loneliness to feel connected to those they love, and there is an effective solution: hugs.

Studies have uncovered a powerful connection between hugs and senior health. The following incredible health benefits can be obtained by giving and receiving hugs:

  • Improved sleep and glucose metabolism
  • Reduced pain
  • Improved circulation within the body
  • A boost in positive emotions, like happiness, contentment, and security
  • Reduced stress
  • Fewer negative emotions, such as loneliness and anger
  • Regulation of the production of white blood cells
  • A regulated heart rate and lower blood pressure
  • A strengthened immune system

One senior care home in New York tested the effect of hugs on seniors with a program called “Embraceable You.” This voluntary program drew 200 participants who rated their current degree of satisfaction with their wellbeing and overall health. They also noted the amount of casual touch experienced in their lives. Trained “hug ambassadors” were brought in to administer appropriate forms of touch, while residents were given buttons to wear if they were interested in taking part in the hug experiment.

Throughout the study, residents were given a token for each hug they received. Before long, residents were seeking out huggers, and by the end of the first week, they had accumulated nearly 1,400 hugs.

At the end of the study, the participants were interviewed and separated into two categories: low contact (one or two instances of physical contact each day) and high contact (more than three instances per day). The high contact participants overwhelmingly noted higher levels of satisfaction in the following areas:

  • Interest in doing things (88%)
  • Sleeping well (71%)
  • Able to concentrate well (93%)
  • Feeling energetic (66%)
  • Not feeling depressed or hopeless (97%)

It just goes to show what an unbelievable difference such a seemingly insignificant display of affection can make for the senior loved ones in your life.

Reach out to Golden Harmony at 919-426-7522 to discover more methods for improving senior health. We would be happy to schedule a free in-home consultation and to share how our companion care in Raleigh and nearby areas can make an impact in the life of someone you love.