Mar 17, 2015

The Power of Warm Hands

When I visit Mom in Assisted Living, I try to arrive at the end of lunch. That is when I am most likely to find all of Mom’s neighbors in a relaxed and happy mood.

They chat amiably as I begin my visiting ritual.

The Power of Warm Hands | Alzheimer's Reading Room

“Would you like a neck massage?” I ask Jane.

“Oh please.” I warm my hands and place them on her upper back and neck and begin to massage gently. She swoons with pleasure.

“You bring a little bit of heaven with you.”

*Marilyn Raichle writes at The Art of Alzheimer’s – How Mother Forgot Nearly Everything and Began to Paint  — a blog about her mother Jean whose glorious art illuminates a simple truth —  those with Alzheimer’s and dementia are still here — living lives of dignity, creativity and joy. Marilyn is currently developing an art exhibit: Changing the Way We Think about Alzheimer’s — One Painting at a Time.

By Marilyn Raichle
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Next is Gloria. “Do you tuck your wings in a handkerchief when you aren’t using them?” she grins.

And around the table I go, always asking permission. They aren't always sure what I mean by a neck massage but each takes her cue from the happy woman sitting next to her.

They all smile, taking as much satisfaction in their neighbor’s pleasure as their own.
“How did we get so lucky?” they ask.

“Oh, no – I’m the lucky one.” I reply. And it’s true.

Lately I've been getting yearning looks from other residents so I move to another table.

“Would you like a neck massage?”

“I’m not crazy. Yes!”

There are all sorts of really good reasons for massage. Building reassurance and trust, calming agitation, easing isolation and boredom – but me, I just love doing it.

It’s such a simple thing but it brings such happiness – to them and to me.

PS I’ve been getting some of those longing looks from the staff. They're next.

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