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How Hugs Can Help Boost Senior Well-Being



seniors holding children

In today’s high-tech and fast-paced world, humans need physical touch more than ever. We are social creatures that thrive through connections with other people. This is especially true for seniors who can benefit tremendously from the warmth and positivity of a simple hug. Hugs are natural medicine for human beings and can make a big difference in the lives of seniors. 


Researchers have found that hugs lasting more than 20 seconds can have a therapeutic effect on the body and mind. This is because hugs help seniors release a hormone known as oxytocin, that can make them feel more relaxed and at ease. Oxytocin is sometimes called the “cuddle hormone” and is associated with happiness and less stress. Hugs can also have additional benefits such as reduced levels of fear and boosted immune and cardiovascular health. 


Let’s explore the many ways in which hugs can help boost senior well-being. Keep reading to learn more!


Physical Benefits of Hugs for Seniors


grandmother hugging child

Hugging can bring many physical benefits to seniors looking to stay healthy and happy. Hugs have been shown to help lower blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. Through this positive physical contact, the senior body releases endorphins that promote happiness, well-being, and good mood. 


These benefits can also extend to the immune system and boost the production of important immune cells. For seniors looking to prevent illnesses and infections, any added resilience to their immune system can make a big difference. The chemical changes produced by a hug can be very helpful in fighting against age-related illnesses such as dementia and diabetes. 


Here are some of the incredible benefits of both giving and receiving hugs:


  • Lower levels of pain

  • Improved circulation in the body

  • Reduced levels of stress

  • More positive emotions

  • Improved cardiovascular health

  • Better sleep 

  • Less negative emotions (loneliness, sadness, anger)


Social Benefits of Hugs for Seniors



seniors hugging each other

In addition to physical benefits, hugs can also improve the social lives of seniors. Loneliness and isolation can be a big problem for seniors, especially when they are separated from family and friends. Hugs can encourage social connection and strengthen relationships that are needed to feel a sense of community and belonging. 


Oxytocin released during hugging can fight against feelings of sadness while making seniors feel more connected and valued by those around them. Hugs given by other people, pets, and even stuffed animals can help seniors feel more connected and less fearful or stressed.


Mental Benefits of Hugs for Seniors


Seniors can sometimes face stressful situations related to their health, environment, or living situations. If left unresolved, these feelings can lead to chronic anxiety or even depression. For these reasons, it is important for seniors to regularly receive hugs. Hugs can help seniors feel less depressed and more interested in doing things. Seniors who are regularly hugged also have an easier time concentrating throughout the day and sleeping at night. 


The Power of Touch


seniors hugging

Seniors need positive physical touches just like all other human beings. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for seniors to get hugs or touch other beings regularly. Thankfully, caregivers and loved ones can provide physical affection when spending time with the seniors in their lives. It can be as simple as a warm hug or just holding their hand. 


Seniors can also boost their chances of receiving hugs by being more involved in communities and social groups around them. Having a pet can also help ensure there is a loving embrace within the home, and can be especially important if a senior is living alone. 

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